718-723: Amazing Antrim

718 – Saturday 13th May 2017:  The Point of Magilligan

We arrived at Magilligan Point for our next wild camping – narrow space to reverse the van – oops!  We just clipped the pub guttering – the kind workman nearby said he would repair it – human kindness, again…

Beach walk – almost deserted – cold wind – O was happy with his usual stick…  Military firing range inland and a Martello Tower – we really did keep Napoleon out!   Pub supper booked at 7:00 … table ready at 7.40 – just had to have a second bottle.  Doesn’t it just irritate you when you point out they’ve left at £15 bottle of wine off the bill and no-one has the grace to say thank you much for pointing it out to them!    But we did manage to watch some of Eurowiddle  Song Contest on tv – winners – Portugal – we raised a glass to them!  Obrigado!

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My boys playing.

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The Napoleonic Matello Tower 1812.

719 – Sunday 14th May:   All Downhill at the National Trust 

A run in the morning…..   Drove to the Downhill National Trust Estate.  Walk along by dovecot, Mussenden Temple, to Castlerock, and back via Hazlett House (beam structure and same family for centuries) and then Downend House.  The builder, the ‘Earl Bishop’ was very wealthy and liked his mistresses (many), including the mistress of Frederick William of Prussia and Emma Hamilton, mistress of Nelson … they were a busy ladies, and he was a busy man.  Shame about his wife, they became estranged, once they had bred a number of offspring.

The Earl Bishop was the Bishop of Derry  – the most lucrative Irish living given to him by his brother, the Lord Leieutenant of Ireland.  The Lord L. promptly died and the Bishop became the  Earl of Bristol, inheriting the Ickworth Estate in Suffolk.  Yet more money.  Having fallen out with his sone and heir, he left Downed left to his cousin, who had acted as Steward who looked after it … in their family for years.  He sounded a most colourful character.  King George III called him ‘that wicked prelate’.

Ali the coffee stall man at the carpark was a character and we chatted to a couple who came to see him from Derry – they had 3 springers and Oscar was much admired … again! We spent a peaceful but wet night snug in our Jezacarr. 

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So much colour with the wild flowers.

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The dovecot with the ice house under.  The Earl Bishop spared no expense on his estate.  But he spent in the district to support the locals with employment.  

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View from the Temple.

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Mussenden temple clinging to the cliff edge.  Built by the Bishop to house his library and his books.  A fire was lit in the basement to keep the books (not his mistress!) warm.  He was for acceptance of all religions and allowed Catholics to have a Mass in the basement.  My sister Clare will attend a wedding here, but not until August 2018 … hopefully it won’t have fallen off the cliff by then!

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We debated descending on a minor detour to the lake, built for leisure and to supply the big house with fish.  We were so pleased we did.  It proved to be the highlight … bluebells and wild garlic amongst mossy stones and trees … a heady mix of colour and scent.

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We continued along the coastal path to Castlerock.  The railway in bottom follows the coast to Derry … for another SUNNY day.

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The big house … built in 1774, burned down in 1851, rebuilt in 1876 and abandoned after WW1 – the farmer who owned it had to remove the roof to avoid property tax and it fell into complete disrepair.

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720 – Monday 15th May:  Mount Sandel-rain

AM – K walked Oscar in pouring rain – wet through to her underwear!  Rainy Coleraine beckoned for mega shopping … B&Q, Pets at Home, Lidl and Saninburys … whew.  But K delighted to purchase preserved lemon, she’s seen a recipe somewhere!  Walked around Mount Sandel-fort – the rain has brought the vegetation on hugely – immense shades of green….  A nice lady recommended beach walk at Portstewart just along the coast.   Our overnight was by the river with a Victorian salmon leap.

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View from the Fort of the carpark on the opposite bank where we overnighted.

721 – Tuesday 16th May:  Rain Delayed Play Portstewart

K and O walked early in the nearby woods. K phoned the TIC for Jezparking – parked close to town and beach. Town, promenade walk – coffee – and – guess what?  Another lovely beachwalk!  Following the end of the NorthWest 200 motorbike races, the hospitality tents and fencing were being removed.  It is obviously quite an event.

Whilst at Camac Valley in Dublin, a lady had recommended a campsite in Bushmills –  our next location – (not just for the whiskey). The site is Ballyness and is a real gem – manicured and whitewashed with immaculate lawns and pitches!  Great music playing in the sanitary block, including Tom Jones and Abba … great to dance in the shower to!  Oh, and underfloor heating!  BBQ in the evening – not fire log though as too many people around… 

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Portstewart.

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Easy walking around the bottom of cliff….

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… and then you arrive at …. this!

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 We drove on along the coast stopping at a view point of Dunluce Castle.

722 – Wednesday 17th May: Show us your Bush

I ran early from our pitch – I’ve been trying to practice slower running to build stamina before speedework – and it is working. K did her Pilates. I did my regular Khairdying and it was a success, thankfully. K:  so thankful to loose the skunk stripe in the middle of my head!  We walked to the town for the distillery (oldest in the world) tour – a bit disappointing with some lack of detail, family background, etc. But, we both tasted – and I drank my old favourite – Black Bush!  At least the distillery is still producing, unlike Jamesons and Smihwicks.   In fact, it was bought by a Mexican Tecilla company and the plans are to double production.  Town walk with lots of boarded up shops.  We stopped at a bar for another glass  .. very limited choice, so K chose port, having spied a bottle lurking in the corner … think the barman may have wanted to get rid of the bottle as it was huge! 

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723 – Thursday 18th May: Causeway Rambler

An early bus to the Carrick a Rede rope bridge. Suspended 100 feet above the gorge – I went first and almost turned back when I saw the sheer drop – narrow rope bridge – trying not to think of “Galloping Gerty”as I crossed gingerly!   A quick look at the island and back to the mainland – scariest thing I have done for yonks!  K breezed it, naturally.  She saw the Kittiwakes nesting.  So many tourists there, Asian and American mostly.  We must have been asked about 20 times if ) had crossed the bridge … no not allowed and he would not have liked it anyway!  The Giants Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction – no wonder!  Read Oscar’s report below – I won’t steal his thunder…

Walked for 2 hours to White Park Bay – fabulous rock formations and slippery seaweed….  I photographed a very ‘nimble” cumulous. Then the Causeway Rambler bust to the Giant’s Causeway … when asked where to by the driver, K instantly responded Cribs Causeway … a shopping mecca in Bristol! Again so many people here.  A little know fact is that the National Trust try to get you to walk through their multi million pond visitor centre and charge £5.50 for the privilege, but the actual Causeway is owned by ??? Heritage and is free … just go through the arch!  Sneakily there are signs up stung your ticket will be checked on exit … by whom exactly?

A quick pub visit and then – bus home via Causeway Rambler. Oscar was knackered and I wasn’t far behind – another BBQ and the end of another great day out. Due to pressure of booking , we had to move pitches to the lakeside – with swans and ducks…. 

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Everything today was determined to be stunningly beautiful.

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The bridge was built every summer for local salmon fisherman who stretched nets from the point of the island.

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Look – no hands!

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No apologies – so many pix.

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People atop this one.

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The shack was once a Youth Hostel on White Park Bay, but had to shut due to vandalism :(.  Would have been an amazing place to stay.  But with Jez we’ve no need of it’s like.

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Giant’s Causeway.  National Trust at the top would charge you £10.50 to walk through their visitor centre, but you can avoid this and walk freely, as the actual site is managed by ?? Heritage.  The most visited attraction in Northern Ireland … and everyone was here!  I’d been told I would find it disappointing … but I didn’t … just wish fewer people.


Oscar’s Diary

Hi there – avid readers – all 9 of you – but, who’s counting?  Now my owners ( beautiful people – for Muggles – Potterspeak, again) – like innov8. They call it “CPD” -“Contiguous Processional Devilment”!    Sometimes it works and other times – well, let’s say – it’s a good effort.  They have given me “Kongs” – a basic ball filled with frozen sardines… They forgot to measure the circumference of my tongue!  I cannot get the little feckers out – so they spoon it for me – why not put the nice fisywishys on a plate, for heavens sake!   

They took me to this place called “The Giants Pawsway” – well, the Giant’s dog had huge paws to walk  all the way to Scotland on the giant rocks… No facilities for dogs – why?  20 people stopped to ask if I had crossed the Bridge – many Oriental folk got me to pose for photos – obviously for the Hong Kong Spaniel Corporation!   With all this wet weather – at least K and J are letting my fur grow.

But no more sardyKongs, please? 

They tell me I will see Boppy and Poo soon – Yippee!  And of course Shags and Mags, too… Maybe Kensey also in the summer – I am a truly pampered pooch – life is good here at Jez Holiday Home…

Hidey Ho, then for now….

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707-717: Fridge Flights of Fancy

707-710 – 2nd-5th May 2017:  Kilkenny

We found a friendly campsite on the River Nore outside Kilkenny – Dan’s the man there – 30 minutes walk to the city.  I hadn’t been here for 40 years and explored the Cathedral, music (Irish traditional),  Smithwicks brewery – tasting too. We were so taken by Kilkenny – we stayed for 4 days instead of 2! 

A little history …. Kilkenny is a city.  The smallest in Ireland and apparently locals are a little sensitive if you call it a town!  It was the unofficial capital of ireland in the Middle Ages.

Back to Camac Valley Campsite on 5th – for early start for moi on 6th.

 

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View as we walked into Kilkenny.

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Coffee stop in one of the narrow streets full of bars and eateries.

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 Roathe House – Ireland’s best surviving example of C16 Merchant’s house.  now a museum.

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Inside St Canice’s Cathedral.  The second largest medieval cathedral in ireland.  It was defaced by Cromwell who used it to store horses and troops.  Alice Kyteler’s (more anon) brother saved himself by paying for a lead roof … it proved too heavy and collapsed.  Kilkenny is also known as the marble city as much of it was built using local black marble.  Well, it looks grey until polished.  The church is home to a fine collection of floor grave slabs and Medieval tombs when life sized effigies of the interred were carved.  J paid to go in, whistle I sat outside with Oscar.  When I went to pay, I was told J had spent so little time, I could go free.  Nice.  

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This grave slab is thought to be the father of Alice.  I know the song “Who the F is Alice” comes to mind!  The story of Alice is that she was widowed 4 times and all to wealthy men.  Perhaps it was jealousy but she was convicted of being a witch and condemned to death.  English nobility who were friends smuggled her away to London where she was not heard of again.  Her poor maid, Petronella, was burned at the stake in her stead!

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Effigies of Piers and Margaret Butler 1539 – The Butler family owned the castle from 1391 until 1935. 

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Stone chair of St Keiran embedded in the wall from C13.  In the C5th, he is said to have visited Kilkenny and challenged the Chieftains to accept the Christian faith.

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A boozy long lunch at Kyteler’s Inn, where the with Alice was born.  A superb rambling building….

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… We returned the next night for more food and music.

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I asked Dan the Man of the campsite if we could cycle along the river to Bennetsbridge … No, path not suitable and about 15 stiles, but he offered to give us a lift up there so we could walk back.  He dropped us at the old flour mill that is now a working pottery … some lovely patterns but not for us at EUR24 for a mug!

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One of the 28 man made obstacles along the river walk … not a mere 15!  So pleased we’d asked if it was suitable for bikes!

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We’ve seen a few derelict mills.  It was a 9km walk where we did not see another sole … just lovely.

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The Smithwick brewery tour was quite interactive – these portraits of Smithwick’s talked to us … Harry Potter-esque.  In 1710 the first brewer, a Catholic, was forbidden to own a business, so he had a Protestant sleeping partner.  It was centuries before he bought the business outright.  When Smithwick sales out stripped Guinness, it was sold to Guinness in the 1960’s.  More recently Budweiser was brewed here, but now nothing.  Sad that it is just a tourist attraction after centuries of brewing.  It was the same story at Jameson’s – the original distilleries are too small and inefficient.

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J had a ‘senior paddle’ to taste Smithwick’s ale, pale ale and the new Blonde.  I managed to ‘lift’ the shapely pale ale glass … naughty but Kerstin would be proud.

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The Black Abbey, dissolved by Henry V111, and turned into a courthouse.  Roofless post Cromwell and then restored in 1866.  I admired this window to a local chap working inside … The traceries (stonework) date back to C12.  The glass was designed by a German Jew who was killed in WW2 and all the plans went with him.

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St Mary’s Cathedral C19, but some wonderful mosaics inside.

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In the Castle Grounds, where Prince Charles has just been photographed with a sliothar and hurley (hurling ball and stick to me!) and was in the papers.

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The bag contains some Donegal wool … I am a knitting maniac now!  And two picture frames we had converted to Perspex so they won’t shatter if they fall off the wall.  This pic is a shop in Tralee, named J Clune.  A friend of Delia’s had spotted it in an antique’s market and give it to J at his Dublin birthday bash.  It has pride of place … above the bog!  Actually the only bit of wall large enough ..

711- 713 – 6th-8th May:  Medical for James and Fridge

OK readers – what’s considered an early start?  Howsabout 2:30 am???  Flight at 6:00 am – walk to bus at 3:15!  I was so earlybird that on my walk – the Saturday night party at the Green Isle Hotel was still in full swing… A ‘domestic’ going on outside – “Pleeze don’t leave me” from husband as wife walked to car?  Gatwick at 8:00 – and Ash Vale for sleep…..  Trip was for the medical to get my over-70 driving license for Jez.   Wonderful opportunity to have supper with Sinead and Shane in London – on the South Bank – memorable meal.  I was pushing out Zzzzs at 9:00 pm.

Monday – all complete by 10:00 am and back to Gatwick to complete the whirlwind journey. In the meantime, K had been cleaning, had coffee with sister-in-law Amelia and investigating a repair for our fridge – not looking good so far…  K:  Perhaps I should not read forums so much … both the ones I use had suggested that since the fridge vents had been cleaned by our supplying dealer mid April, it was likely to be dirty gas, blocking pipes and destroying regulators.  I drove to a reluctant (difficult to get him to agree to look at Jez) motorhome dealer outside Dublin.  He was at pains to be alarmist and explain all the dire consequences of dirty gas to every part of our gas system and said he would not touch our van due to the later issues that could crop up.  Cripes!  Someone on Motorhome Craic forum suggested we try Leisure Technical Services in the North … he could see us on not until Thursday.  Feeling low with a sense of doom and £ signs in form of my eyes!  

714 – Tuesday 9th May:  Dogheda Not

K here:  I telephoned the Tourist information to find out where we could park Jez.  On arrival the carpark had a height barrier.  Back on the phone … the second suggestion also had a height barrier.  So we aborted and headed for the coast as I had seen a wild parking spot there.  We parked up outside yet another car park’s height barrier and I joined a local couple for a dog walk.  As we passed a small area of statics, the gent (and he was a gent) asked a local where J and I could park up for the night … Tom, as he introduced himself offered to let us stay at the end of the statics’s strip … but we sailed slightly past the the end of the road and parked up just outside the now demolished fisheries.  We really ought to have been on electric for the F/F, but with two ice packs and a frozen water bottled … fingers crossed I would not have to do a massive defrosted cook off.  And this area was too lovely to pass up.  J joined me on another walk (lucky Oscar) and we found the long beach round the head.  We were only disturbed by a few walkers, birds and some passing freight ships and yachts.  Idyllic.  

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How about this for a peaceful spot.

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 Passing traffic!

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Maiden’s Tower and Maiden’s Finger (yes all it needs is a couple of boulders at it’s base to be another part of anatomy!).  The local couple told the tale that the women folk would watch for the return of their fishermen from the told of the tower.  Our heroine understood from the flags on the fishing ships that her man had perished.  in anguish she jumped from the top of the tower to her death, leaving a finger caught in the stone wall.  

715 – Wednesday 10th May: Dogheda Yes and MK’s

A further phone call to the Tourist Information and the good lady had been doing her homework for us, identified a surface carpark with no height barrier.  Drogheda, here we come.  Now the good folk of Drogheda were not big fans of Oliver Cromwell in the 1600s – he captured the town and slaughtered 2,000 inhabitants.  Not sure why but the Irish seem to think that the Brits totally love Cromwell, I know he established Parliament, but he was quite brutal.  Today, its a commuter town for Dublin 30 miles to the south.  It is a pleasant town … not architecturally stunning but the history is interesting.  It also has not one, but two St Peter’s Churches.  

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St Lawrence’s Gate C13:  Dogheda was one of Irelands largest 4 walled towns in min C15.  This is pretty much all that remains.  The guide books tells me that it is in fact a Barbican, a fortified structure to defend the gate.

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Magdalene Tower – the bell tower from a C13 friary.  King Richard II accepted the submission of the Gaelic chiefs in 1395.  Peace only lasted a few months.  And it looks like this spindly structure should not have lasted as long as it has.

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Cadaverous Medieval wall tomb (not James!!!)  in the graveyard of the Catholic St Peter’s Chuch.  It was in this church that Cromwell burned the spire, killing 100 people who had taken sanctuary inside.  

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The Catholic St Peter’s houses the head of Saint Oliver Plunkett … Archbishop who refused to leave his people but then his head left his body in London in 1681! 

My Goddaughter and niece Mary-Kate lives near Banbridge and she, Michael, Daniel and baby Amelia welcomed us into their home and provided the driveway for Jez and our sleepover. Wonderful meal by K and lots of family chats during a top evening…

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A gorgeous pic of Mary Kate and the baby.  Sadly Daniel was not up before we left.  But he helped with the cooking, played with bubbles in the washing up sink and I read him a few stories.

716 – Thursday 11th May:  Leisure Technical Services Trumps All

Our next shot at fridge repairs was LTS near Banbridge (Dromore) – and they came up trumps (not the ‘Donald’ kind, thankfully… ). They quickly identified that the gas was getting to the fridge burner, so all this talk of dirty LPG was misleading.  A part removed, showed signs of a burn out at the back.  Tomorrow, they may have the part – so a campsite with electric hookup for the freezer at nearby  Oxford island on Lough Neagh was the overnight for us.  Fabulous walking around the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles . BBQ in the evening after warm sunshine – sitting out in the heat – Oscar and I used sun lotion!   We could easily spend a week exploring this area of Northern Ireland – another time, definitely.  K:  I should mention that the camping gave us a 10% discount for the cafe… was that another full Irish James?  

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A wildlife haven, so lots of hides.

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Our walk was through wild flower meadows and different woodlands.  When we texted Mary kate to tell her where we were staying, she replied with OMG – that is our favourite place.  We can see why.

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717 – Friday 12th May:  Fridge Fixed and Wilding Again

Excellent spot for running – K back to running after a hamstring problem.  A slow breakfast and a walk in the best park in the area – Lurgan.   LTS fixed the fridge – and seriously debunked the myth about ‘dirty’ gas – but filters fitted to our tanks, for extra care.  And LTS will process the warranty claim for the fridge part and the filters and fitting only cost us £100.  A superb result.  

At last – a return to ‘wild’ camping – where?  The top of a mountain in the Sperrin range – called Eagle Rock. Remote, no phone or internet signal – gorgeous views – until the heavy mist and rain surrounded us!  Almost Harry Potter-esque spooky – the ‘forbidden forest’ – and Hagrid’s cottage could be around the corner. You can tell we’ve been listening to the audio books while driving – excellent tales!!!  Soooo quiet here……

In the morning, we will travel to Magilligan Point for more ‘wilding’ and sea walking – possibly better weather – but we have all the wet gear we need.

A good life?  “The Good Life”, indeed…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

698-706: BIG Number Birthday in Dublin

698-706- Monday 23rd April – Monday 1st May 2017:  Dublin And Family

A bit of a summary as we’ve not been blogging!

Ferry from Rosslare – we were a rather late arrival – bow doors opened as if by magic. Next morning, K collected hire car using the nearby Airport hopper bus.  On my actual birthday, we drove to Enniskerry and I had a fantastic full Irish breakfast (first on over 6 months) in the local hotel (where I was barred for too much drinking as a camping young adult) and then walked the Scalp hill/mountain and  collected Kerstin from the airport – then straight to a pub in Bray pub with some family – a good night was had by all…….

Next day (Thursday), we did a walking tour of Dublin city. Kerstin and I toured the Jameson distillery – and tasted their produce – a few times! She liked it with lime and ginger…  The Brazen Head welcomed us for lunch with an outside heater!

Another magic day in Baile Atha Cliath…my spiritual home.

Friday – Kerstin went alone to Dublin sightseeing – we stayed by the van and did some jobs – K cooking. Kerstin enjoyed herself so much that she was quite late back – and she is always ‘laid back’!

The excitement is mounting – for the second big party tonight – 70 is only a small number, isn’t it?  Collected salmon from Clondalkin and then to the party house (Delia and Liam’s) in Cabinteely. Food prepping and Oscarwalking… Huge surprise when Sinead and Shane arrived – with Sarah!!!  Out of the blue, completely!   My first ever girlfriend at age 13 – Mary Garrihy (King) travelled all the way from Ennis to be here – we last met 30 years ago but always keep in touch for birthdays.  Blind wine tasting organised by K and K – much mirth ensued.  Not too late to bed – in our Jez on the roadway outside. Oscar was bemused at so many people in our gathering – but huge thanks to everyone for coming along…

Sunday, we cleaned the house – and Liam discovered our Karcher window/surface cleaning tool – we decided to buy one for them as a thank you gift – he’s been cleaning windows ever since – Delia is happy. There’s an old song – “When I’m Cleaning Windows” – Music Hall history.  Back to Camac Valley campsite – and suitably tired – a nanny nap for all, including K9…..  Supper – Bed later for J – K and K stayed up until 2:00 am – playing cards and working their way through wine and Grand Marnier – and my birthday chocolates!!!  K:  We did score them so he knew exactly what he’d missed … we saved him the one we neither of us fancied too!

Monday early – K brought K to airport and returned our hire car. A chilled afternoon.

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It might be expensive at EUR27 but Camac Valley Campsite is our Dublin home with large fully serviced pitches.

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James’ actual birthDAY and started with a full Irish!  Or English or Scottish!

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A birthday walk around the Scalp – so named due to the rocks and gorge.

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Yes we are on the right path.

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I knew about the Sugar Loaf mountain (every country seems to have one), but here there are the Great and Little Sugar Loafs and also a wee Sugarlump!

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Meeting up with some of the family in the evening..

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Kerstin working her way through different beers.

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A walking day out with Kerstin around Dublin.  The President’s Palace is in Phoenix Park and we saw the cavalcade.

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Kerstin was unimpressed with the sheer number of ‘original and best’ tour busses.  She has a thing against the little tourist trains too.  Funnily enough the next day she used the hop on hop off bus which transported her from the campsite and as no-one asked for any money, she managed to get a free tour!

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Kerstin and James toured the Jameson’s Distillery … although no distilling is still done here, they enjoyed the tasting.  They were given Jamesons, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Jack Daniels to compare.  A revelation to J – he has always been fond of Black Label, but reckoned Jamesons came out top.

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Kerstin decided the best way to drink it was with ginger ale and lime.  Meanwhile … I was freezing my butt off in a outside cafe next-door!

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Lunch to warm us up at the well known ancient Brazen Head Inn.

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Again outside … Oscar, what we suffer for you!  And you get your own glass!  But they did put the heater on for us and made a fuss of Oscar.

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Are we lost?  And still cold?

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James’ 70th BIG number birthday party in Dublin was held in sister Delia and hubby Liam’s house.  We did a blind wine tasting.  Kerstin placed a sign over the sink!

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And she wrapped and labelled all the bottles … I could not have coped without her.

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A gift from Stephen and Diedre – S had come across the photo from Tralee in Kerry.  You can just make out the J Clune over the door.  We’ve replaced the glass with perspex, just in case it does fall off the wall!

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J’s niece, Mary-Kate supplied the most amazing cake … it had a motorhome and a map of Europe on it – with red dots to show where we have travelled  so far.  Sorry not a large image as my camera died.  Not sure if J is about to praise it, pontificate or weigh it!

694-697: Burton Birthday in Barcelona

694 – Lloret de Mar ‘ere we Come

A separate drive (car and van) back to the farm in Farnham.  We collected Maddy from work and drove to Gatwick.  We’d had limited choice of destination with wanting to depart on Thursday evening … Maddy had Friday – Sunday off work – even arriving very late in Barcelona on Thursday night (really Fri morning!), it still gave us two full days.

695 – Catching Up the Zzzz

I slept in.  And Maddy slept in majorly!  A wander around the town, lunch and then cosies on for a sun bathe.  Supper after another Sangria and a wander around the small streets.

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We lunched in the sun with Sangria …

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… followed by an ice cream at the end of the beach.

696 – Barcelona Architecure

We caught the 9.00 bus into Barcelona and followed a phone app walk to view some of the best and interesting architecture.  Fortunately M did not want to join the massive queues to go in ay of the Gaudi buildings as it was sunny.  We walked our socks off … but it was worth it.  One detour to a Sephora …. a make up store for M to spend some of her birthday money.  She ticked lots of boxes on her wish list; Tapas, Paella, Ice cream and walking Barcelona.

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697 – Home Again

A walk and coffee in Lloret and a little sun bathing on our balcony – the bus transfer picked us up at 12.30.  

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I had hung all these up!

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My stuff is just in one small plastic bag!


679-693: Travelling North and the First Birthday Party

A very late post …. lost our internet 10 days short of returning to the UK and then, somehow, we’ve been amazingly busy!

679 – Wednesday 5th April 2017:  Driving Day

We hadn’t driven all day – since we flitted from Portugal to Nice…. 8 hours travelling – and a nice aire in Cusiance – near where we had stayed before on our way home, this time last year.  Met a motorhome neighbour….  Now, when a young lady meets a nice Swedish man – what does she say, eh?  Obviously – in fluent Swedish – “I’m drunk and I love you”!!!  K seemed taken aback when his hands suddenly became more tactile…. and her Swedish wasn’t that fluent, either… I wasn’t impressed.  Perhaps, that’s the direct line Oscar should try with Kensey?  K’s excuse was that she learned it from some sailors?  I wanted a Harry Potter wand – to turn the Swedish man into – a tartcitron with extra mushypeas – deepfried!  

A quiet night…..

680 – Thursday 6th April:  Langres

Driving for a few hours, we stopped for lunch at an aire in Langres…  A Dutch van parked alongside us (a bit close) – they appeared tone a bit taciturn….  However, quite understandably so – when we saw they unloaded a completely shredded rear tyre – and the chap closely inspected their spare which he had fitted. We picked up some of the local cheese – orange skin  and the lady in the shop gave me some paper bags so it could breathe … nice.

We walked the walls around the town and thought it a pleasant town.  We drove on a France Passion vineyard … with views over fields, including one with Llamas, one sheep and one goat!  Peaceful and on an Oscar walk, I discovered that the town housed the country retreat and museum to Charles de Gaulle.

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With M. Didier – something to do with encyclopedias.

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All that remains of the funicular, as Langres is built on a rocky promontory.

681 – Friday 7th April:  Vet Day

We contemplated visiting the de Gaulle museum etc, but at EUR16 and with limited time to us, we declined.  Met Robyn and Kensey in a car park very close to the centre of Troyes.  We wandered and imbibed several glasses of Chablis with Robyn.  Oscar had his first visit with a non-English vet.  A thorough examination and prescribed the worming tablets required for the pet passport.  My vet had said that he should not have a certain type as they contained a medicine already in his Advantix or Advocate …. I tried to get the vet to give him Droncit, which I knew was OK, but no go.  Fortunately he gave me the tablets to give to Oscar with food later that evening.  Completely against the rules, but I was able to ring my UK vet practice and verify if this particular tablet was OK for him to take.

Robyn had identified a Sport Centre parking just on the outside of Troyes, which was a lot quieter than the city centre car park would have been on a party night.

 

682-683 – Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th:  Moving North – Another Shangri-La 

Robyn, again identified another superb aire at Mareuil le Port.  Not on most of the apps, just as well or it would have been over run!  A park next to the river.  The motorhome bays had their own water and concrtete patio area.  As well as electric for those of us that parked where it worked.  So lovely we decided to stay two nights – Robyn longer.  Robyn started hand washing, so I got the old twin tub out and was guilted into doing a load of ours too.  Perfect sunshine and a gentle breeze for drying the washing and us being outside pretty much all the time.  J lost a bet over when the Sicilian earthquake devastated the SE corner … 1693 is now engrained on his memory!  Consequece for J was to get the ladder out and clean the road kill on the from to Robyn’s van!  We had a ‘slight’ incident where I slammed j’s hand in Jez’s door.  Bearing in mind we have to really REALLY slam it, I was convinced all the bones in his fingers were crushed to a powder.  The neighbouring French motorhomers shot out with some magic Arnica cream and J did not have bruising or swelling.  I’ve bought some now, for the next time I try to damage him!  BBQ both nights.

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Foot care! 

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Amazing Pitches.

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Kensey basking in the sun.  Oscar finds the shade … they are so incompatible!

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Pilates class … who is absent?  That would be the photographer!  Oscar tied up or he would try to join in ….

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… he seemed to derive much enjoyment just watching … little perv!

684 – Monday 10th: Bergues for an Overnight

A longish drive up north and we overnighted at Bergues, just 35 mins from the Tunnel.  Far enough away from trouble and really quiet.  I took Oscar for a walk around the Vauban fort and walls and then into the town centre.  Being British, I was all bagged up to poop scoop by one of the outer paths, to be told, most insistently, by locals that it really was not necessary to pick up not in towns.  J struck up a conversation with our Belgian neighbour who told him that he had fought in the war and was on his way Normandy in his motorhome to meet up with some surviving members of his regiment.  Just how old would this have made him?  Almost 90 at least!

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Bergues.

685 – Tuesday 11th:  Back to Blighty and with the Reads

Early for our tunnel crossing as slightly anxious about how long the Pet Reception area would take.  In the event, it was super quick and we caught an earlier train.  We did not experience the sinking feeling we had this time last year … the sun shone and the M25 behaved!!!!  We parked up straddling Ian and his neighbour’s drive (they kindly move out and we pay motorhome parking rent in the form of a bottle of whence became).  A great evening, only marred by the fact that Nicky’s father really was not well.  Got to watch Robot Wars with Jimmy …. forgot how much I used to enjoy it.  

686 – Wednesday 12th:  Sinead and Shane

Ian and Jimmy were off to Barcelona the next day, so we took Jimmy for a blowy walk along the sea shore and for a muffin and hot chocolate in Rusty … Ian could pack and still deal with work (he works from home).  We then legged it to Farnham to Coxbridge Farm, where we stay near my family home.  We collected the car from the Aged P’s on the way and then battled our way up the M3, M25 and cut across W London to Ealing.  It all felt incredibly built up and busy.  just where do all these people come from?  Our destination was to dine with J’s baby daughter and partner, Shane in their new flat.  

687 – Thursday 13th:  Supper with the Aged P’s

We sorted out the rest of the garage and lugged a LOT of stuff back over to the Aged P’s for storage in their attic.  We now have room for the bikes 🙂  It will be interesting to see how oscar copes with us on bikes!  The former Welshie, Will, knew to avoid wheels and when I called him to heel, would run around the back of my bike and trot along bedside my left foot.  Somehow, I am in no doubt, that Oscar is not going to be so bike friendly.

I cooked at Rothbury for the Aged P’s and since we were sampling the Portuguese Moscatel that I’d squirrelled away (had buried it deep in the garage so we were not tempted to drink it when our own supplies ran out) and the Rasteau from the France Passion Cotes de Rhone vineyard we’d stayed on, we stayed the night.

688 – Friday 14th:  Supper with Caroline and Terry

Another boozy night with food away!   It started with a bottle of proper Champagne to celebrate J’s forthcoming BIG birthday.  We started the night here too!

Their No. 1 Daughter is Maddy’s bestie and they had news of the intimidation and bullying that goes on for freshers on the Uni Hockey Tour to Croatia.  She had been forced to eat and drink all sorts of obnoxious concoctions, including the pee of one of the lads …. Just horrid.  Given how much anti bullying education goes on in school, it is just incredible that they are all too intimidated to speak up.

689 – Saturday 15th:  Meeting the NEW Boyfriend

Maddy (she now spells her name Madi) and Brad came to supper.  Their friends have dubbed them Bradi!  We really liked him.  They’ve known each other a few years and he seems to have the measure of how she will wind him up when she’s bored!

690 – Sunday 16th:  Cooking and a Turkey Easter Supper

I spent most of the day food prepping at the Aged P’s.  So that I could use her kitchen, Mutt moved her food prep to Clare and Chris’ house.  Cx2 have, for the second Easter running, been tow path support crew for Louis who was competing in the Devizes to Westminster rowing race.  The competitors have to camp and prepare their own food in the evening.  The support crews, literally wedge food in them as they pass by, but it means very early starts and a lot of driving.  Hence Mutt cooking an Easter meal at Clare’s.  J and I have not had a proper turkey dinner for 2.5 years … just scummy.

691 – Monday 17th:  BIG Party No.1

We had a great evening with some England based friends for the first of J’s 70th birthday parties.  The raffle, where you can steal what someone else has was fun … with people hunting down the whisky, port and the camper van mug.  The BBQ sauce bottle nearly ended up with Clare – she did keep offering it around.  Madly, so busy I forgot to take any pix. 😦

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Besties Maddy and Dayna – besties and their youthful mothers!

Frances and Edward gave J two hedgehogs … we named the Van Jez, which is Slovenian for Hedgehog (so named after it’s brand Adria Sonic Supreme – Sonic the hedgehog.  We’ve named these two Jez and Belle … Jezebel.

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Jezebel.

692 – Tuesday 18th: Cleaning

Thank goodness for dishwashers!  And I had forgotten (put it from my mind) how long it takes to clean a proper house, and we only cleaned a few rooms!  Think we’ll stick with a motorhome.  No garden either!!!

693 – Wednesday 19th:  Warranty Work

Our list of Jez faults, included a dodgy step, no hob ignition, a leaking kitchen sink, no rear view / reversing camera and some smaller items such as bits of trim falling off.  An early start and down to Family Tavel Centre in Bristol for the repairs.  Nearly all completed and at no charge :).  Having walked Oscar in Stoke Park for the best part of 2 hours, we left him in the car whilst we shopped till J dropped!  I then carried on – buying something pretty much from each floor in John Lewis!

Then over to Stephen and Kay for a lovely tapas / grazing supper.  They are really pleased with their new motorhome – an 8m AutoTrail …. I have storage envy!  

We had booked to stay in Bristol for a few days, but the doctor had rearranged J’s over 70 DVLA for tomorrow and I was off on a TRIP!  Barcelona with Maddy – Ola!

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Stoke Park with the Dower House in the distance … we lived next to it for 3 months.

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Pleased to be back in time for the bluebells.

 

 

 

 

 

672-678: Poncing About in Provence

672 – Wednesday 29th March 2017:  Pitch Perfect

Now, some days we drive for hours – today’s odyssey took all of 10 minutes – or less!  To the campsite near last nights stay – at Pont du Gard – for laundry, some other jobs – and chilling.  But mainly as the weather forecast was excellent for the next few days and it would give us chance to get the chairs and BBQ out as well as feel the sun on us before returning home.

Gorgeous large pitch right on the riverside…..  no passing traffic other than the birds.  Llovely German neighbours on both sides with chats in English and German – K. Barbecue in the evening…

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The shorts and the knitting came out.

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Our beautiful boy.

673 – Thursday 30th March: Bridge Running and Walking

Our running has really taken off, again – K ran across the Pont du Gard and I ran back into Remoulins – trying to build the mileage for the 5k race on 15th April. Post-brekkie, we walked across the bridge and clambered up high to a circular path – with manicured gardens in the wild!  Pm saw us relaxing in the sunshine…  Another BBQ – why not?

 

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K’s morning’s run – view from the 2000 year old Roman bridge.

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When I ran, it was devoid of people … for once we were up reasonably early!

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The highest bridge ever built by the Romans at 49m.  It stands as a testament to their engineering.  Slaves, using pulleys, hauled massive blocks, up to 6 tons, of stone into position.  The upper channel is the aqueduct, in use for 400-500 years, and the lower the road.  When I visited with the Aged p’s as a child, there was not a tourism industry here – no museum, cinema, upper level tour, massive carparks etc.  However, you can follow the footpaths and still cross the road bridge for free.

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The walk along the remains of the aqueduct was through perfectly trimmed hedges, an observation tower and an ornamental herb garden … all in what should have been wild countryside! 

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Evening sunset from our perfect pitch.

674 – Friday 31st March:  Hair Yesterday and Chopped Today

A late am start – why?  Because we can!  

Now, readers – a little known fact to whet your appetite for tonights imbibing – those of you who do have a regular libation…  Official UK figures show that sales of alcohol are double the amounts declared by folks in their medical or other declarations!!!  Obviously, as nobody lies about their consumption (!) – there’s a vast alcolake in the UK – it’s called “Lago da Vino” and the tributaries are everywhere…  If only we could tap into it…well then, we would have to declare an increase in consumption?  This is something of an esoteric circular discussion which may not have a conclusion. “Lies, lies and damned statistics”  

Todays jobsjoys included Oscar hair trim, J hairkutz and K hairdye – and campsite showers – just like boarding school – on the cold side of lukewarm!  But good for the soul…  And all in pleasant sunshine.

 

675 – Saturday 1st April:  Where did the sunshine go?

Morning – as forecast – teeming rain – visions of Cabo di Especial – mudstuck and towout in Portugal. We moved Jez to an adjacent hard standing pitch – see – we do learn from our adventures.  We’re not used to cold temperatures (we will be soon enough – UK-side).  Drove Jez to Avignon – and straight to an ACSI campsite – to run the heating on mains electric!  Lovely site – by the Rhone – and nice wide pitches.  In response to a wild camping forum challenge, K prepared a special Escoffier recipe – the usual KHC result!  

An April Fool link posted by our friend Dan on a forum we’re members of … no longer just the midges to be aware of on the W coast of Scotland, but Polar bears fleeing the melt down of the arctic spotted 🙂

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Stuffed onions: adapted as using a slow cooker.

676 – Sunday 2nd April:

What does one do in Avignon?  Pontdancing, of course…not pole dancing, or poncing.  We did a little jig – looking around to make sure nobody was watching – they were all pontjigging, too!  Good old St Benezet was responsible for this bridge, miraculously – according to legend he was a shepherd who had a visitation and told to build the bridge.  He attended a council meeting and declared his mission.  The Provost laughed and told him that if he could move a massive stone that had not been able to be used in building the cathedral as no one could move it, he could be believed. He lifted the stone and carried it to the river.  According to some witnesses, he gave a shrug of the shoulder and threw it into position as the foundations stone.  Others reported that he was assisted by divine intervention.  Funnily enough, he went on to be the bridge manager and run a consortium of bridge builders.  And since the bridge kept being washed away by the currents of the Rhone, he was onto a good thing!  

We phoneApped our way around the city – we discovered that K9s are banned from all parks – but are allowed in restaurants! Logic? 

My lunch pudding was straight out of ‘Hammer films’ – should have been served by Vincent Price!  

En route to our Jezorhome, we stopped at a bar (we know – not unusual in itself) – but this turned out to be a film club bar – beautifully comfortable armchairs to sink into – a selection of eclectic films – cartoons and monochrome – kooky.  An amusing one with every known corporate logo where the Michelin men attempted to catch Ronald McDonald the burger and then the world collapsed due to earth tremors.  Another a silent one.  Audience mostly young folk…  but one of those kooky moments in time that you don’t go looking for.

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Yep, the Pont d’Avignon is only half a bridge.  Actually it’s pukka name is Pont St Benezet, and there’s a chapel with some of his relicts – the rest are scattered, of course, in other churches!   For some time, part of the bridge was wooden and only one person wide, so not much use for trade.

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On said bridge.  Watched a couple doing a little dance.  Were we too cool or just plain cold to do much?

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View from the Rochers des Doms gardens (before we were doggyvicted)  of the city walls and the bridge.

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Palais de Papes.

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Built like a fortress, and of the 9 Popes, most had a go at adding or removing towers etc.

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Lunch was OK, omelette and chips for J, cod in provencal sauce for K, but the chef must have Parkinsons to have put so much pink sauce on J’s Tarte au citron!

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Wandering in the Quartier des Teintures, where most manufacturing used to take place, there are still old relicts remaining … 4 water wheels that is!

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Now ~wine o’clock~ would be more our style.

 

677 – Monday 3rd April:  Palais de Papes and Villeneuve les Avignons

When did I last run in the rain?  Gwent League Cross-Country, probably…. the motivation is high – so a damp training route along the Rhone – completely flat 5k – and it’s getting quicker…  K resting her ham string 😦

Sady, we left Oscar in charge of Jez and headed for the ferry across the Rhone to visit the Palais de Papes – largest Gothic Palace in the world… vast – good history of the 9 popes who held office in Avignon when the Papacy left Rome – for political reasons in the 15th century.  One Pope decided that the best way to honour God was to live the most opulent lifestyle – why?  

Back to reassure Oscar that we hadn’t left him permanently – he understands, we think…  Across the opposite side to Avignon – to Villeneuve lez Avignon (city of the Cardinals).  Really pretty and simple town/village – coffee and chat at local bar.  Visit to Tour Phillipe le Bell – and the monastery of Chartreuse du Val de Benediction – a real gem.

A glass of wine in the town square was going well – until my glass exploded into smithereens (and spilled the blinking wine too). Some children were playing ball and the result was a ‘vinoplosion’, as the ball ricochetted off K’s unsuspecting head and missile like onto my glass.  The young lady was ‘tres desole’ and Dad apologised profusley – no harm done.  

For some obscure reason, our talk wandered around to buying a house in Provence – why? Another impossible/improbable dream?  A whim? Who knows – we bought a previous house and a motorhome spontaneously…  Last week it was shangrila in Portugal Ponte de Lima.  To celebrate our discussions we ate in the campsite restaurant … not fine dining, but a lot of meat came away with us to furnish two more meals!

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Inside one of the courtyards in the Palais de Papes.

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An amazing height achieved in C14.  The largest Gothic palace in the world, with great big cavernous rooms.  

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Villeneuve:  Tour Philippe le Bel.  Built to guard the other side of the Pont d’Avignon which straddled the island in the middle of the Rhone, where our campsite was.

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View up to Fort St Andre, built by the French royalty so they could keep an eye on the Popes!

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The Chartreuse du Vale de Benediction:  once the largest and most important Carthusian monastery in France.  Bits had been sold off but now reclaimed and restored – sort off!

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Three cloisters still with the food serving hatches for the monks.  This one looking up to the Fort St Andre.

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We really liked the chilled and less touristy Villeneuve.

678 – Tuesday 4th April:  Chateauneuf deu Pape and Rasteau

We bid a fond adieu to campsite Pont D’Avignon after the usual van water/waste/wc services – and our wineavigator compass needle flickered around to – direction Chateauneuf du Pape!  Town square lunch – K – foie gras – and a glass each of the obligatory (expensive) produce…  

Our destination tonight was another France Passion site – a vineyard. On arrival and setting up Jezacamp, we has a degustation – and the subsequent purchases included some Euro 2.90 per litre local wine and a few bottles of the better stuff.  Evening sunset over vines as far as the eye can see – and mountains on the other (sunrise) side – and all for free!  Seven star hotel surroundings – is this the life?  Just a smidgen of wind to contend with (and not just from Oscar!) – our host referred to it as a ‘mistral’.

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It had to be done … one glass of Chateauneuf de Pape was EUR7 and the other 9.  We swapped halfway through.

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 I just had a starter – panfried foie gras with a poached quails egg and a light black olive tapenade … yummy.  Followed by a shared cheese platter with J.

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Our Rasteau vineyard pitch.    Just us, the farmhouse behind us and views across to the hills.

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Most of the land is flat and vines as far as the eye can see.


Oscar’s Diary

Well then, another diary entry – for my fans…. What to write? No need to describe meal times, walks, being left in the van while the ‘owners’ go to a museum – or a bar – latest excuse was they were visiting some Paper Palace in Avignon – ‘Palais de Papier’, I think they said…  I suppose you could learn about – tissues, wc paper, kitchen rolls, papier mache – paper airplanes?  Paper over the cracks in their logic, maybe…  Anyway, they’re only humans, after all.  

We dined in the campsite restaurant one night – I was allowed in – unlike the Avignon Parks!  I was appalled!  Other dogs barking inside – and being generally misbehaved – the owners didn’t seem to care, unlike my K and J who care a lot about me (I had to get that in – I like to flatten, sorry flatter them, sometimes).  

Now, they tell me I will see Kensey on 7th – this Friday. Which approach to use this time? The aloof, devilmaycare, manabouttown syndrome? Or the getyoursnoutinthere directline way?  Women are a mystery – I heard James say that once to K – his ear developed a sudden dent, then.  Maybe the cautious approach – you blokes will know – pay a compliment – like when ladies say “does my bottom look big in this?”  You say “Not much darling” – no – “Never, sweetums” is better.  How much have I learned from James?  Build on the cosy atmosphere following the compliment, a bunch of flowers (pansies are good) – and then – fly under the radar – and Bob’s yer uncle!   If we’re going to have a long term relationship, something needs to give….  

Back to the UK next week – I’ve forgotten the cold weather, the M25, the other roads with never ending queues of cars – but – we will be with family and friends.

K and J have been listening to “Harry Potter” on audiobook whilst driving – I thought it was a mistake….  Now when James produces my doggybowl, he waves his wand (no rude jokes, please) and says “enterfariumdoggywoso” – and nothing happens!  No magic dogfood appears in the bowl – so he has to go back to actually manhandling the food into the dish.  I may try to delete the next episode from K’s KPad…

That’s from me – for now – back to Kenseyplanning…..

 

 














661-671: Nice Family & the Camargue

661- 666 – Saturday 18th to Thursday 23rd March 2017 –  Nice in Nice

K picked up our rental car from Nice Cote Dazur ‘Kiss and Fly’ airport – an Opel ‘Ostracar’ Astra TurboSonicSupreme – just like Jez!  We journeyed into Nice – always heavy traffic into town…  to se Sarah (J’s daughter) and Jade (Sarah’s daughter).  One day we were picked up by Sarah from the campsite … (the NouNou – I know, but honestly this is what they are called!  aka. the Nanny was Jadesitting) and off to see their prospective new home in Biot.  A snip at (offered) Euro 455k.  Large home – needs some work but eminently liveable in for now – 3 beds – pool – and room for Jezparking too. Let’s hope they get it…   Lovely sunshine lunch in Biot with Sarah – we returned the following day for a reprise – fantastic fish course in with the locals.  

Young Jade wasn’t quite herself – bit of an iffy tummy, but we persuaded her to walk out with us without her Mum – first time for us too!  She walked by herself some of the time – and had amore than a few carries. In the park, she chased a pigeon but the pigeon won… Jade won the beauty contest, though…  Plenty of Grandad time – ooops, am I really a grandfather?

Nice meals at Sarah’s – K cooking – Jade improved during the week – looking forward to seeing her Dad on Friday in Carthagena.

K here:  Funny  – J forgot to mention Jade’s name for James … Grandpa Pig …. hilarious!  It comes from Peppa Pig.  J was less than enamoured with it!

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We missed seeing Jade on St Pat’s, but she did wear an Irish rugby shirt on Saturday, but wouldn’t keep still long enough for a non fuzzy photo … something to do with all the cheering and arm waving!

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A walk to Jade means a carry!

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Tummy tickling time.

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Not sure how appropriate to take a toddler into an e vape shop?

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Lunch with Sarah in Biot.

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Set lunch – sole around salmon … guess who had chips with theirs?

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Leg exercises.

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All fall down.

667 Friday 24th March

Sarah and Jade left at 5:00 am for Spain and Daddytime – K returned our hire car to the airport. The day was spent doing van cleaning and admin – must be done – the rain came…one last night at Parc des Maurettes – we will return – probably in the summer – to help with the house move, we hope.

 

668 – Saturday 25th March

Off to the Camargue – on a friend’s advice – totally flat landscape – rice, lots of horse riding, rare birds…  We started in the rain on the Peage … but after the first toll of EUR22, we headed onto the free roads.  We overnighted at a ‘France Passion’ (rice farm) for the first time in a year or more – so peaceful, no nightly light pollution – lots of stars – and – quiet all around.

 

669 – Sunday 26th March

As we drove to Santes Maries de la Mer we passed many horse riding stables.  I was into horse riding once – teenage years – my first (and only) mount was Raquel – who liked me so much she wanted to tickle my tummy on the ground – after she had thrown me unceremoniously. Pride comes before a?  

St Marie de la Mer – gorgeous sea walk – flamingoes, more horses – and lovely sunshine…  Euro 6 for 2 coffees!!!   We are in expensive France, now.  On to Aigues Mortes – stunning medieval walled town.  Euro 20 for 12-hour parking – no!  Parked at good old Intermarche and walked into town.  Aigues Mortes was once a major sea port, but is now marooned 5kms from the sea.

Our second France Passion – a winery – same peaceful quiet night – and zzzzs. 

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There are some pink flamingos, top right of the pic – but we were completely outdone by others’ long camera lens. 

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Horse riding is the major tourist must do, but we didn’t.  Something to do with a horse named Raquel … ask James!

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How much, Sir?  Two white coffees … EUR6!

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Stables just everywhere with the small sturdy white Camargue horses.  Although historically the horses were never stabled and were used to thresh grain.

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The vines are mostly ‘Gris du Sable” , a rose – low growing and looking like a Germanic war cemetery.  The other main industries are salt, rice and tourism, of course.

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Aigues Mortes with its complete town walls.

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670 – Monday 27th March

Intermarche for LPG and provisions – onward to Arles.  We passed by St Giles and K recognised the waterfront where we had walked and lunched with Maddy nearly two years ago.  Arriving in Arles we found the Riverfront free parking with free services – flat embankment for running – and wall-to-wall sunshine.  Lots of narrow streets, Roman remains – and a glass of ‘Frexpensive’ wine at Euro 8 for 2!  We reclined back at Jez – with our supermarket rose ‘Gris’. 

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Along the Rhone by our aire … just a wall separating us from the view, but nothing separating Oscar and a long drop!

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Our near neighbours.  The camels, goats, horses and dogs did not make a sound … but why do donkeys sound like they are building up to a hernia?

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I had just been saying to J that last year I really liked the Sicilian Baroque architecture, and this year the Portuguese Manueline … and lo … some curly pillars.

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Elise St-Trophine:  Just read that this portal is one of the French Heritage Sites … knew it looked impressive 

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Take you fun pick – but not at EUR69 each.  Did I mention we’re finding France VERY expensive?  I know we’re in the touristy area, but!  I googled a comparison of the cost of groceries between Guildford and Dijon … 23% cheaper in Guildford.  yes, really!

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Arles: the Roman amphitheatre is one of the best preserved in Provence and still used as a gladiators’ arena.  Bull contests in the summer, but apparently here they pluck a rose from the bull’s horns.

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Sampling the ‘Gris’ rose – not cheap (that old chestnut again!) at EUR4 each and not very good either!

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The mellow water front.

671 – Tuesday 28th March:  Recreation in Remoulins

Excellent runs for both of us along the beautiful river (Rhone?) in the morning – perfect conditions – I have identified a 5k race for us in Farnborough on April 15th – a good test – we have done these ‘Park Runs’ before – good atmosphere. 

I tried to up my speed a bit and surprisingly ran 4:48 for the last km – good improvement – K ran further than for months, too. A bit of admin to do – beers by the river…

PM – to Remoullins area intending to stay at another France Passion – but just outside the town – a nice compact aire on the river – quite full, but we squeezed in. Nice walk on the stony beach (J, you omitted to mention the couple of beers each!)  – mega play time for Oscar – he even walked on water – literally!  Months ago, he would have run a mile.  Some motorhomers in these parts are not exactly over friendly… perhaps the French think we look unfriendly, but we only get a grudging Bon Jour to our jovial one.

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Where you off to?  I was playing with you?

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No, you keep sending my pink teddy bear into the water!