About Clunegapyears

Travelling around Europe with James in our motorhome

1618-1634 : Chop Chop Busy Busy Work Work Bang Bang

1618-1634:  Work – Chores and Busy with Friends and Family

Monday 10th – Wednesday 26th August 2020

Do you remember the BT advert with penguins?  Chop chop work work busy busy bang bang .  That’s how it’s been with us since we landed back in the UK.  It was all so busy, I had to set up a 3 column spreadsheet so I could keep track!  And now catching up with the blog.

With a stupid o’clock crossing, we parked up for the rest of the night close to Folkestone and then drove round the M25 to the Aged Ps in Ash Vale.  Maddy and I (and the laundry) alighted from Jez and I picked up the car … leaving the laundry in the machine, dropped Maddy at her home and drove around to join J at Coxbridge Farm, the CL (5 pitch site) we regularly use.

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A bit squished!

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Obligatory pic of M25 traffic, at least it wasn’t as bad as normal and the sun was shining.  A stop at Cobham Services was a reality Covid check after a more relaxed France.

Here for a few days only and the weather was glorious. And I spent it in the stuffy and even hotter attic … I’d been warned not to add to the volume of our stuff there and as we will be emptying the van into the attic, garage and shed, pruning was needed!  Over the 5 years of on the road, we have swelled the contents … items we’ve picked up as they seemed like a good idea and others that we have carried around and not sufficiently used … they all made it into the attic.  As soon as I descended from the stuffy and sweaty roof, the weather turned …. it seemed to move into Autumn pretty rapidly.

During this period we did some socialising and chores. Our Fiat airbag warning light was resolved (new innards!), and we combined this with 2 nights on Frances and Edward’s driveway.  Niece Zozo had an 18th birthday family Garden Party and we combined this with a side trip to see Ian, Jimmy, Mel and Ruth and Brian in Rustington.  Michelle and Craig joined us outside the van, for an American supper … I’ve done their prawn and smoked salmon starter for others as it was so good.  An overnight to a soulless Club site in Bladon, Oxford, to see ancient Uni friends for supper.  Met up with another old Uni friend, just as ancient, for supper in Lydney.  A very boozy lunch with Caroline – isn’t it great when off spring can act as chauffeur?!  E Bikes are serviced … Maddy drove me to collect them one by one and I cycled them back to Ash Vale.  The car has had the air con fixed, as we will need this with taking the car to Crete.  Maddy also dragged me a number of times to her gym … we did legs, arms and cardio over 4 days, so every part of me ached.

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New labelled bottles formal my sauces … thanks David and Karen for the link.

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Our Coxbridge view … and the new ex-racehorse.

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Always love a pic of one of the Severn Bridges where J worked, whilst we had 2 nights in Aust.

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Oscar is often ambitious when it comes to sticks.

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Lydney Harbour where we overnighted after meeting Sarah, ex Uni.

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Getting comfy on a trip … we’re using trellis to keep them off now!

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Our view of Southampton – the Solent … overnighting here before the trip to Fiat.

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Our first British breakfast whilst Jez in with Fiat – It may have been with plastic cutlery and on polystyrene trays, but yummy.

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Walking in the New Forest before going to Frances and Edward.

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We saw lots of the wild New Forest Ponies …

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… and CO2 got mucky!

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Corrie nesting in Frances and Edward’s flower bed …

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… and she ousted Bevan from his bed at Bron’s.

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Weather OK one night for BBQ with Maddy.  It was supposed to be confit duck, but we couldn’t open the tin …  a quick trip to Waitrose for provisions. 

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A walk before Zozo’s 18th birthday party with views of Arundel castle.

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And Oscar found another big stick … or log.

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Birthday girl.

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Corrie and Doris hoping for cake!

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Walk on Climping Beach after the party.  New tradition to each collect a shell each beach walk for Clare and Chris’ new house.

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Ian had passed a load of Nicky’s photos to Ruth … she’d sorted some out … this was the truck Nicky and I hitched a lift back from S Spain in … we had to stow away on the freighter!

On the medical front, J has had another blood test … PSA still effectively 0.  Specsavers have lifted a chunk of £s for new glasses.  And I have had a hip Xray … not significantly showing signs of arthritis, which is good, but an old injury may be causing problems … will have to wait for a clinic appointment … initial telephone consult just as we cross over to Europe …  may need to get this looked at in Crete.  J also paid the GP to do the medical form for his post 70 C1 license … despite the government announcing that all expired licenses are valid for additional months, we don’t believe that this covers overseas … and currently think that I will have to do all the driving to and in Crete … ho hum.  Of course, no way of getting any idea of when the license may (or even further medical test) arrive. 



 


 





 


1604- : Covid Changes and Heading Home!

1604:  Quiet in Quinson

Monday 27th July 2020

A run with CO2 in the park and then off to Lidl to stock up for the next few days whilst we had use of Sarah’s car.  Then James returned the car … lunch on site with a late check out.  Really helpful site, Les Treilles, the owner ran the hose for a good while so we would have fresh water in our tank. Although with these temperatures, it doesn’t stay fresh long!

2.00 pm saw us at Feu Vert … a chain of tyre stores … front tyre looking a little soft.  Lovely young lady assisted us with the machine, as it defeated us.  And so up into the hills to Quinson … a lovely free parking recommended by Lin and Bo, with a toilet block.  On a lake with a pretty small town.  I did walk along to the prehistoric site, but it was a unremarkable two hut recreation.  We did manage an ice cream in the town, of course!

Maddy, my daughter, was reading about risks of the UK government re-imposing quarantine with France and was really worried bout her flight being cancelled on 2nd August.  This was to be her only trip this summer … so we bought another flight for her from Stansted to Toulouse … well Carcassonne really, with Ryan Air.  For tomorrow!   And guess who paid?!?  A bit of a change of plan; the tourist planning I’d done was now null and void.  And we went into van cleaning and bedding airing mode. 

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Quinson.

1605:  Tyre and Airport

Tuesday 28th July  

We planned to leave about 10.00 to give ourselves plenty of time for the 4.30 hr drive to Carcassonne.  Whilst we were breakfasting, others on the parking altered us to a flat tyre.  The one that’d had a resuscitation of air yesterday.  Completely pancaked.  Decided which of the 2 choices of breakdown recovery policy to use and rang RAC.  Yes, would typically have someone with us within an hour.  It was nearer 2 hrs!  When he did arrive, it was in a battered old car with no kit, but the ever important mega jack in the boot.  Repair to tyre will have to wait till tomorrow … we’re off to the airport.  Only 2 hours later than planned.  Maddy had to wait about an hour as we were late and her plane was early.  

We parked up in the authorised motorhome parking in Carcassonne  … free till end July as a gift from the council and retailers.  A walk around the citadel area, but quite busy and then across the river in the newer part.  A glass of wine on the way and then the time got away from us (too late for me to cook!), so we ate out … nice.

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Our pukka grease monkey.  One being asked if I could take his, pix, he smiled for me.

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The culprit … a whopping nail.

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The Medieval part of Carcassonne is simply stunning.  A massive citadel around narrow streets.  But even in Covid Times, it was busy.  And the carparks were empty, so heaven help anyone who comes in a normal summer.

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The ‘new’ Carcassonne is not to be ignored either.

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This is not the first time, I’ve warned M that we will be walking and then her shoes rub up a blister, so we swap! 

1606:  Carcassonne

Wednesday 29th July  

We exercised … leg workout, never again!  And wandered into Carcassonne for breakfast / brunch.  It was even busier than last night, so we didn’t stay long.  Perhaps the best time to visit is Spring / Autumn.

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Maddy rigged for iPhone charging and a fan.  Corrie attempting to join her!

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Maddy led the leg workout.  What you can’t see are the resistance bands around our thighs.  I felt muscle pain for about 3 days.  Funnily enough, I refused to do it again!

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Carcassonne again.

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Busy, busy, Busy.  We don’t like crowds at the bust of times and especially not in Covid Times.

We found another Feu Vert tyre place …. they could fix the tyre but we would have to wait an hour.  All the garage was emptied onto the tarmac and we sat and waited our turn.

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Maddy to the opportunity to soak up some rays … bemusing the odd shopper!

Determined to do the tourist thing, I dragged M, J and CO2 around a book town, Montolieu, the French version of Hay-on-Wye.  Would have been great for buying all sorts of second hand books, had we been fluent in French!

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Book shops spilling out into the narrow streets.

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CO2 flaked out after a ball game in our overnight aire.

1607-9:  Millau Sheltering and Sweltering

Thursday 30th to Saturday 1st August 

I had planned lots of places to visit … not to happen!  We ended up avoiding the heat by booking into a campsite for 3 days.  It had a pool for Maddy, shade for for all of us.  And other than a walk into the market, we didn’t do a lot!  A couple of BBQs and a bit of swimming, laundry and admin.  Even the water adverse CO2 had a couple of enforced dunkings in the River Tarn.  We were up early mornings, so it was cool enough to exercise, but NOT that leg workout!

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Marinated thighs with satay sauce … yummy.

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Greek night in France: fava, aubergine salad, beetroot with garlic and slow cooked beans.  With my first attempt at flat breads.  Nostimos!  

1610:  Bridge Views and Roquefort

Sunday 2nd  August 

Leaving the campsite we headed to a bridge information centre under the bridge.  Maps.Me is infallible, I’d spotted it here … obviously long since closed but it gave a sense of perspective of the hight of the bridge legs.

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You catch the odd view of the bridge from all angles.

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We attempted to follow the sat nav, set up for our weight and size, to the correct information centre for the bridge.  It took us down the valley and across to Peyre … one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and a village perche.  After narrow road and cars coming in the opposite direction, we lunched in the car park and then aborted our quest for the bridge information centre.

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Peyre, super pretty, but the mediaeval and troglodyte caves to be explored another trip.

We arrived in Roquefort – the AOC village where fluorine air from the caves gives the cheese it’s distinctive flavour.  Super helpful last in the Tourist Centre but the free aire.  She told me about a walking app, which I duly downloaded.  Maddy and I took CO2 on a short walk.  Little did we realise it was down, down and down to the river, then up, up and up back to the parking. This, with a run in the morning, meant we both achieved more than our target steps.

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The walk was called the Sentier de Mehir … this store which apparently has very little in common with a menhir!  But CO2 got to cool off.

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Interesting canoe tent!

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View from the free parking with free services.  Thank you Roquefort.

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1611:  An Active Day: Tasting and Cycling (of sorts!)

Monday 3rd August 

A pre-booked, but free tour of Roquefort Papilion.  Tour in French but I followed most of it, aided by the booklet in English.  Sadly, my French has been letting me down … whether it is the face masks making it harder for me to translate and / or my ear is just not in, but I’ve had the humiliating experience of French people on hearing my French, offering to speak English to me.  Much to Maddy’s glee!  I am not amused! 

OK, a few cheeses facts:

  • Only 7 producers have Roquefort AOC accreditation.
  • The fungi is grown and harvested from rye bread
  • A local left rye bread and cheese in a cave, came back later and … liked the mould!
  • Production is seasonal …you’d have thought the sheep could be more accommodating and spread out their milk / lamb yield.
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Maddy and I did a self guided tour or another marque, having first sampled their ewe’s milk ice cream!  After lunch, we went back in and bought a cheese for a third producer.  All set up for a Roquefort tasting with our friends Bev and Mike who we are seeing soon.

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And Maddy doesn’t even like mouldy cheese!

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A rare sign of affection!

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Cheese loaves maturing … fake at this time of year.

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A flock of steel sheep on the roundabout at Roquefort.

Late afternoon we shifted to Saint Eulalie de Cernon.  We had booked a 5.00 pm velo (bike) ride … think The Railway Children film … pedaloes on a disused railway.  Across viaducts and through tunnels.  Great fun and the 8KM were over too quickly.  A train took us back to the start.

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Two people pedal and up to 3 can take it easy in the back. To be honest is was mostly downhill, so as much breaking as cycling.

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Pedalling selfie.

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Over night we were in a private aire by the medieval town of Saint Eulalie de Cernon.  It even had showers and toilets.  

 

1612:  Les Hospitaliers and the Bridge Proper

Tuesday 4th August 

With access to water, a laundry session was in order.  The aire owner pressed leaflets into my hand … even for the velo ride, despite my saying we’d done that last night … perhaps my French let me down again!  Maddy didn’t fancy going into the Knights Hopsitaliers medieval building, so James and I took a gander.  No pix as my camera SD card died.  

After lunch, we set off for the correct / current Millau Viaduct visitor centre.  Tours on the build would have greatly interested J, being a bridge man, but we’d not booked.  However the information centre was pretty good and had a viewing area.

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With hot weather forecast and M needing to top up her tan, we headed for water … Lac de Pareloup.  A massive ex-municipal campsite turned camperstop was rammed.  But fortune smiled on us … after by passing a lake side site that wanted EUR42 plus 3rd adults plus dogs … we found a farm site about 700m from the lake … EUR18 inclusive.  Pretty basic but roomy and we had shade late afternoon.  

Mum rang.  She’s due a minor op and doesn’t want to risk it being postponed should quarantine arriving from France be introduced.  They brought their return forward and we would not be now staying with them at my sister’s house in Charante.

1613:  Lazy Lake Swim

Wednesday 5th August 

Exercise again in the morning .. I found a run off road … J complemented me on finding so many hills! More laundry … cos I could and it mounts up quickly when there are 3 of you (and one changes her clothes every day!).   M and I did a session on the beach by the lake.  

Maddy NEEDED to wear her posh dress out, so we booked a table at the restaurant.  Lovely food with a choice of menus.

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J had salmon tartare with a beetroot sorbet.

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Charcuterie for M with pickled mushrooms.

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Foie Gras and another sorbet ? for me.  And lots of edible petals for us all!

Main courses were also excellent … then the cheese course … 

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We filled our boots and then I did a homemade doggy bag … the remainder into a doggy poo bag.  The lovely waitress gently told me that it was for us to take and return what we didn’t want.  Oops, I’ve just taken it.  “I saw!” was her wry reply!   My justification was that on hygiene grounds they couldn’t re-serve the cheese to others, surely!  Anyway, they got a good tip, as I felt guilty and we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch!

1614:  Rodez Shopping 

Thursday 6th August 

Leaving the campsite we set off for Rodez.  Maddy had not had time for proper retail therapy and Rodez had a Sephora … makeup store!  We parked slightly outside and let CO2 tow us uphill to the centre.  A bit of shopping and a cafe frappe.  Given the heat, we headed for Belcastel, another Beaux Villages, but we were one side of the river and the campsite was the other … just a small packhorse bridge between the two which was quite unsuitable for Jez …. narrow roads the other way …. abort.

A quick perusal of Park4Night and the next village on our tourist trail was Figeac, but temperatures predicted to be up in low 40s, so we stopped just before at another ex-municipal site, now a camping car aire.  Barrier with multi-lingual instructions and we gained entry for 2 nights and we now have a card for the Camping Cars Sites.  For EUR11.92, it was a great site:  EHU with good amps, hedged pitches, hot showers and river front on the Lot.  The site had the Lot!

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Rodez cathedral.

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1615:  Return Change

Friday 7th August 

The Times newspaper, so it had to be believed, reported that the Government was seriously considering imposing quarantine on arrival from France.  We have a LOT organised for our return and it would be awkward to impose on anyone for 14 days (I know Lin and Bo have kindly offered us their yard) … so as soon as the lines opened, I held on for 25 mins to bring our tunnel crossing forward.  The earliest we could take was 0123 on 10th.  This stupid o’clock time also incurred an additional fee of £34 … prices just keep going up with demand.  But a small price to pay compared to 14 days incarceration … and I do appreciate that most folk have done this for months.  

We cancelled seeing Bev and Mike … but will catch up with them in the UK … wonder if we will be able to keep off consuming the varieties of Roquefort for the tasting we’d planned!?  A local vet could see CO2 at 4.30.  I cycled the 1.5km with CO2 in the Os-car … far too hot for them to walk.  In the event I was a sweating puddle as soon as I felt the vet’s air con.  I had rivers running down my arms and legs …. if anyone had looked closely as me, they would have assumed I was incontinent.  Result with the vet … as I provided the worming tablets, he only charged a consultation fee … EUR30.  Sure this is the cheapest i’ve ever paid.

1616:  Return Change

Saturday 8th August

Up at 6.00, showered, water filled and we were off by 7.15.  A long driving day.  Maddy would love to get behind the wheel and take a turn … but NO!

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The rear sleeping seat for the non driver!

We arrived at Nonancourt, a municipal aire with free services, that we’ve used before.  Dog walk, dinner and bed.

1617:  Last Day

Sunday 9th August 

With half day closing, we shopped at Evreaux …. a super huge Carrefour.  Maddy slightly irritated that I chose to walk every aisle … she was hungry.

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Car park croissant.

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Just as well we are planning a lot of dry days or this would not last until we come out again in October!

We parked up at the Sangatte aire.  Walked the dogs, ate and walked the dogs again.  And blogged whilst waiting for our 0123 train.  

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And another plug for the FaceBook group … Campaign for real aires … CAMpRA.  do check it out.

 

 

 

1598-1603: Bimbling to Biot

1598:  And So Out of Italy

Tuesday 21st July 2020

Briancon is a pretty town … we didn’t walk up to the Vauban style part … too hot and too lazy.   A large LeClerc, so I pulled the shopping trolley and stocked up on a few essentials for self catering. Amazing how often the trolley gets used!

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Upper Vauban Briacon.

Not a long drive, just down and then up to Ailefroide.  We lunched and then walked back down through the huge campsite amongst the trees to the reception to pay the municipality our EUR10.  An ice cream stop was EUR10 for 2 ice creams with cream … not too bad.  But the coke was EUR3.30!!!  Really going to struggle with these prices.  A lot of eating in!  If I don’t fancy cooking, it will be a trip to the supermarket deli counter!

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On the drive, cant help but get excited when you see hills like these.

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Really must clean the windscreen!

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River walk  the water looks so icy and we spotted people swimming in it the next day!!!

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1599:  Shifting Down the Mountain

Wednesday 22nd July 

An active start to the day.  J ran up the road …. a steady slow up hill.  I pilates’d and then walked CO2 back along the river.  We used the motorhome service on the way down ..always a good feeling when you are empty and full in all the right places. We stopped in L’Argentiere-la-Bessee to visit the silver mine and museum.  A detour up to it, so we stopped about 1.5km away.  Left CO2 and walked up to the museum.  It opened in 10 mins … we waited.  No, you had to pre-book and we hadn’t.  Ho hum!  So back down the hill to lunch in Jez.  At least I scrumpied apricots – the tree was laden and overhanging the path!  Not in the mood for a town, we parked up beside a small pond on a gravel car park.  

A bit of dog walking and knitting completed the day.

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Large pond.

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we had it to ourselves for a while, but overnight joined by another 4 vans.  

1600:  Entrevaux Again

Thursday 23rd July 

Another running morning … along the River Durance.  A leisurely start all round.  We rarely do the “up and at ‘em” early mornings.  Although, we have been recently so that it is not too hot to exercise.

A drive down through the mountains to Entrevaux.  We’ve stayed here a few times and really like it.  Stunning medieval town on the river, with a free parking complete with services.  It was one of the places we looked at for property purchase.  

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The sun may be shining, but that water looks cold and not about to test it!

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Drive down to Entrevaux.

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Entrevaux citadel over seeing all.

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We had a wander in more for a dog leg stretch, but then were tempted by a couple of glasses in the small square.

1601:  Antibes, or Rather Biot

Friday 24th July 

Supermarket shop on the way down, past Nice and straight to our camping site.  We’ve used a number of site around Nice and Antibes over the years but Camping Les Treilles was new to us.  We’d booked it as it was a LOT cheaper than the others we’ve used before in peak season and it was closer to Sarah.  Small, no pool, basic and old fashioned, but without all the frills to attract loud families.  It is only open until the end of September as it is in the flood risk area – you may remember the Nice area floods a few years back … 9 people from Biot died and many campsites were destroyed.  The only negative is that it is right next to Marineland, a huge water park.  But the noise of this is drowned out by the cicadas!

Having set ourselves up, Sarah came and fetched us.  Supper with her and the children.  Sarah explained she is cooking a lot for a Joe Wicks low carb book … I had a flick through, impressed and then ordered 3 of his recipe books.

I drove us back to the campsite in the spare car.  A VW Golf that has done 135,000km and is going strong.  It is insured for all Sarah’s visitors.  We had missed Gareth by about a week.  Jade was heard to explain to Cian that Daddy had to go back to work as they’d run out of money to buy things like electricity and sausages … the essentials in life!

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Cian aged 2.  He starts big school come September and they will both travel on the school bus.

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Princess Jade, aged 5, just!

1602:  Bimbling in Biot and Getting Lost in Antibes 

Saturday 25th July  

A run for both of us in the park, great as CO2 can be off lead.  I headed out into Antibes to buy dog food and visit a huge Carrefour, which left me bad tempered.  So big and busy that I couldn’t find everything I wanted, but I lost the will to live.  My temper was not improved as I took a couple of wrong turns … all the roads look the same and I was trying to drive in traffic and navigate from the iPhone.  A late lunch and then I prepped dinner to take up to Sarah’s.  Great to cool off in the pool … did I mention, they have a pool!?!

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All forgiven.  Asleep after they’d had a falling out!

 

1603:  Lunch in Antibes

Sunday 26th July  

James did his longest run for a good while – 6km with Sarah on the sea front form Antibes.  I ran with CO2 in the woods.  We met Sarah and co. in the centre of Antibes for lunch.

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Clune running crew.

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Pudding was a visit to the ice cream parlour.

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Dog Handler.  Corrie trotted along nicely, but other pedestrians are expected to jump!

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Until October when we expect (hope) to come back on our way back out to Crete

 

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A pic I forgot to put up … our super meal in Maribor, Slovenia.

 

A Recommendation  …

A group of sensible people have formed a group called CAMpRA … Campaign for Real Aires UK.  We know a couple of folk who are involved in it … The aim is very much to encourage land owners, be it council or private, such as the National Trust to provide basic aires along the lines of those found in France, Stellplatz in Germany etc.  A supply of water, grey and black waste emptying.  They are working at putting a business case and costs to owners.  With the increasing numbers of motorhomes on the roads, more service areas are vital.  

Another aim is changing public perception.  It is rarely the motorhomers who leave rubbish, light fires and crap on paths … we have facilities on board … but we are blamed for the day trippers rubbish.  An example of the proactive nature of this group is to print a sheet and attach it to a rubbish bag, stating that the rubbish collected from the site was collected by a motorhomer.  

Please do look for them on FaceBook and join the group.

 

 

 

1593-1597: 4 Countries & and Epic Meal

1593:  Stilt House Detour on a Driving Day

Thursday 16tJuly 2020

Making full use of the water tap outside the toilet block, we showered and filled out tank.  Plan today was to start the journey out of Hungary, somewhat regretfully.  We opted the route along the Danube for as long as practical and saw the Esztergom Basillica, apparently the largest in Hungary.  Impressive but no inclination to stop and visit.

We did stop at the Bokod Floating Houses … on stilts actually.  

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Over 2 miles of cabins over the Lake.  They are used as summer houses or fishing huts. 

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Fishing is very popular as the lake never freezes  the power station recycles the water for cooling.

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Don’t much fancy coming home in the dark after a few glasses!  They were all a long way from shore.

After a fairly long day, we stopped just off the motorway at another lake car park.  Lots of room and quiet at night.  Off lead walking for CO2.

1594:  Slovenia, Maribor and Fine Dining

Friday 17tJuly 

We ate at Mak’s restaurant in September 2015 on the recommendation of a chance acquaintance.  We both agreed it was the best meal we’d ever had.  Not cheap then, at £123 plus taxi.  Knowing we would be passing nearby, I’d rung to book a table and they’d offered to open the gate so we could park Jez around the back.  We just hoped we wouldn’t get turned back at the border into Slovenia.  

A bit of a queue at the border as all the traffic was forced into one lane.  The Slovenian’s hadcreate a border point at the first service station.  Asked where we were going, we did not mention that we planned to stay a few days in Slovenia, and we were allowed on our way.  Being over 3.5 tons we elected to avoid buying the Go-Box equivalent and use the side roads.  We had managed 5 weeks in Slovenia not on motorways in 2015, and it’s not big.  Once off the motorway we climbed up a few hills and through villages.  Slow BUT so PRETTY.  We had forgotten just how lovely Slovenia is.  Very green and rivers full, so they’ve obviously had a lot of rain here too.

We arrived at Mak’s and parked up.  After a welcome glass of Sauvignon, I walked CO2 along the wide and fast flowing and the meal performance commenced.  

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On arrival at the restaurant you are told to open your mouth … I thought Chef / owner David was winding me up, so proffered my hands … too used to hand sanitiser!  No, really, your mouth … a spray of a brandy type alcohol … a lingering flavour. 

A the table, a glass of really dry champagne (Slovenian).  Then course after course … I really should have taken my own pix, so I ‘borrowed’ these from Tripadvisor.  We lost count of how many offerings, at least 12 course … canapé sized issued forth from the kitchen.  David’s standard phrase was ‘don’t be afraid’, and to put the whole item in your mouth … taste sensations.  Sometimes hard to identify exactly what the flavours were … not that it mattered.  Quail eggs, mousses, foams, black pudding with a fried cabbage leaf on top …. all interestingly presented.  Fortunately the main was not much bigger than the hors d’oevres … really tender beef that had been tea smoked.  

After the meal, the 6 of the 8 guests repaired to the cellar to play some of the vinyl records there.  And then another drink after I returned from the night time dog walk on the terrace.  We had had a lot of wine … 2 bottles PLUS various wines with different courses.  David also cooked us killer eggs benedict the next morning … bill including tip £288, but no taxi fares to pay this time.  Would we go back … yes, but you do have to brace yourself for David’s character … he is not everyone’s taste.  I am convinced he is on the spectrum, well he is a food genius.  But is it odd to take J and I through the kitchen and play songs to us outside on the back step.

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The draped ham was blow torched at the table and then eaten!

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A macaroon with foie gras. 

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A mousse and smoked fish inside, draped with another fish and caviar.

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You eat these by dunking them in the roasted corn.  It is all very hands on:  You eat most dishes with your hands and David was getting his hands into customers food and showing them how to eat as he intended.

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BBQ quail thighs with a spinach soup.

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Mushroom soup.

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David mixing Hendricks G&T  grated lime, blueberry and dry ice.  Honestly as a gin lover, these were amazing.

 

1595:  Driving Day

Saturday 18tJuly 

I walked CO2 before we had our eggs benedict, cooked by David – no charge for these!  We then set off, sometimes alongside the motorway and sometimes up through more hills and villages.  Having had a good breakfast, I really did not expect to be hungry by lunchtime …a quick pitstop for buns and snacks in Lidl.  We agreed to get past Ljubljana and then stop … found a parking in hills outside a tent campsite and restaurant.  We would have wild camped but we need to use the services more often as we managed to put a hole in the intact toilet cassette and are now using the one David (thegreygappers.com) repaired.  We don’t want to overfill it, so it needs emptying more often than normal.  

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1596:  And So Into Italy

Monday 19tJuly 

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View over the village on the morning dog walk.

With water in the centre of the tarmac car park … it would have been silly not to deploy the twin tub.  A little bit of stealth as we had it in the doorway and emptied the waste water by bucket down the drains.  It did seem rather public, but at least our hab door was away from the house.  And given we’d paid EUR20 to stay in a car park, I felt entitled.  James cleaned and I washed the floor … strangely, cleaning Sunday actually happened on a Sunday.  We also used the shower … there is a tent campsite in the back garden, but only 1 loo and shower … in the same room, so not sure how that works if there are lots of campers.  We left at 12.30, saying good bye to our hosts who were at lunch with family.  Oh is it that time already?  

A driving afternoon and quickly into Italy.  A border guard wandered across the border, lazily waving us on.  We stopped just into Italy for our soup.  A quiet parking overnight amongst the vineyards and not far off the motorway.  We have done Italy (6 months) with rarely using motorways, but it is slow as the towns are all busy and roads are bone shakers.  Good progress across Italy as the motorways are clear of trucks on Sundays.

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We HAD to conform  a Magnum at a service station.  Not the lovely Italian gelato we would have liked.

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Overnight was quiet amongst the vineyards.  Not far from Soave, but no tastings this journey.

1597:  And So Out of Italy

Sunday 19tJuly 

We had half a thought of stopping the Italian side of the border to grab an Italian meal, but this is the closure day for Italian restaurants.  A great route past Turin on the motorway and then left towards Briacon in France.  £48.85 class B to cross Italy from one side to the other.

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The sack of dog food was empty, bu Oscar just had to make sure!

We stopped in Briacon … a French aire with water 10 mins, for EUR2, but free to us as we didn’t use anything but the bins.  Supposed to be for 4 motorhomes, but there 15 of us and about 40 of the resident type in caravans.  Quite a complex of electricity feeding each caravan.  As far as I could establish, they were hooked into a lamp post.  The caravans were immaculate, I saw 4 being cleaned.  We wandered into the town, decided against a meal out as a) we’d had a big lunch and b) we really do NOT like French prices.  A pizza for EUR18, no thank you!

Time to slow down now, as we don’t have to be in Antibes until Friday.

 

 

 

15911592: The Danube Bend

1591:  A Three Museum Day

Tuesday 14tJuly 2020

We are spending a couple of days along the Danube.  The Danube Bend, no less!  For the uninitiated, the Danube Bend is known for pretty villages and where hills on both sides, force it to flow southward.  We visited the source of the Danube (Donauquelle) in Germany, crossed and stayed along it several times this trip.

The day started well – a run along the Danube up to the prison.  

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Vac Prison was high security and housed Rupert Murdoch at one time!  I think it is now a detention centre for 1000’s of refugees who cut Hungarian barbed wire and came in from Serbia.

Three museums would, on the face of it, be trop / OTT / too much.  However they were all small and absorbing.  

1.  Another Atlasobsura suggestion – the Mummies Museum / Memento Mori Exhibition

Buried between 1731 and 1838 in the crypt of the neighbouring church,  a number of naturally preserved and fully dressed mummies, in their decorated coffins were forgotten for over 150 years and only discovered in 1994 during the church’s renovation. Reflecting a wide sample of Vác residents, the mummies include three nuns, 30 priests, the wife and child of the local postmaster, surgeons, and the founder of the Vác hospital and first director of the town’s school for the deaf.  The mummies prooveed to be an entomologist’s dream … giving lots of evidence on health, cause of death (89% had at some time been infected with tuberculosis).  

Records detailed the corpses by name and, in many cases, their life stories and the manner of their deaths can be pieced together from written sources.   Most of the mummies have been transferred to the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest for further research, but three are on display.

We visited the Capuchin Corpses on display in Palermo, Sicily, which we really did not like, but this felt less of a spectacle and more of a historic find.

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The main square and church where the mummies were found.

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2.  Micro Museum / Mikrocsodak Múzeuma 

After a sneaky burger, why is it a sneaky one … guilty, but yummy more like, we relocated a few miles south on the Danube bend to Szentendre.  Danny and Lisa, now a few days ahead of us, had sent us a pin for a handy car park … we were lucky as we got away with not buying a parking ticket.  Just plain forgot!

The museum was small, but not as small as the super tiny exhibits.  The last one viewed is on the dissected end of a hair, with decoration on the cut end! … I couldn’t even see the hair.  It is only possible to see the detail of all the exhibits with powerful microscopes.  And the detailing was phenomenal.  A Ukranian created all these by hand … often making a stroke between breaths.  Not often you have to shut one eye to see exhibits!  Worth looking also at Atlasobscura’s site as their images better show how tiny these works of art are.  It blew us away.

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Don’t drop it, youd hoover this up in a flash.

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And this is the book!


 3.  The Szamos Marzipan Exhibition

After walking through the patisserie and marzipan chocolate shop, I bought a ticket (J declined this one) and was given a sample.  I didn’t go back and buy some, but headed past the kitchens and display of equipment up to the marzipan models exhibitions.  Again and attention to detail and some models were a lot of fun.

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A full size of Michael Jackson too …were he and Diana really the most interesting to make into life sized characters?

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We will not visit Budapest this trip, but now I’ve seen the Houses of Parliament.

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This was my favourite.

Szentendre is a reasonable sized town with lots of narrow streets, attractive architecture and more craft shops.  Again, I thought them a little pricey, but this is a day trip from Budapest.  Lovely to wander around, but again it must be horrendous with crowds in non-Covid times.

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Hibiscus – one of my favourite shrubs.

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We drove north from Szentendre along the Danube in the search of a toilet and ended up slightly away from the river in parkland. – Hazelnut Hill Playground, near Mogyoro-hegi Vadaspark – a walk with wild animals.  Walking trails, toilets are open all hours, and there are taps too – camping and having fires is encouraged.   Alone here other than 3 young’uns with their tents and smoky fire.  Lovely, we even forgave the car with blaring music that arrived late and left at 3.30 a.m.  

Neither of us was sleeping well anyway … we had a third furry body in the bed.  Corrie had refused to come when called on an early evening walk; she’d been hovering up by a fire pit … guess she ate bones.  At about 10.00 p.m. she started licking the floor and trying to chew the edge of the carpets.  Refused water, and when I took her out, she frenetically tried to eat grass.  Obviously trying to be sick.  I rang our out of hours vet in the UK … really good advice from the on duty nurse … she will either vomit up, in which case check she doesn’t have it stuck or she will excrete it.  Keeping and eye on her turned into her sleeping in bed my side … stroking her tummy reminded me of a comforting a poorly Maddy, although always involves jam tarts!  The upshot was that Corrie had a super comfortable night, but neither J nor I did!  All this too after she’d rolled in something really stinky and had to have a washing up bowl bath, which she hates.  If only she understood cause and consequence!

 

1592:  Visegrad Views

Wednesday 15tJuly 

We had every intention of exercising, but poor sleep … and Corrie seems right as rain.  We walked to the top of the hill to the viewpoint.

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Walk passed snow blowing and clearing machines and the ski lifts.

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Walk destination was this tower for the views.

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CO2 waiting patiently.

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View of the Danube and across to Visegrad castle / citadel.

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The Danube in the other direction.

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The descent took us past the Forestry Centre designed by the local architect Utak Makovecz in 1984.  He also did the toilet block in our overnight parking.

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Interesting detail.

Soup back at the van and J caught up in some zzz’s.  I was pleased to get my knitting out … only to discover a dropped stick some rows back!  We drove up the the citadel, but no room at the inn, so headed down into Visegrad.  Rather than see if the town was as busy, we parked at a free car park by the Solomon Tower.  We all, CO2 included, climbed this for the views.

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Solomon Tower, mostly restored after a fire in 1950.  Rubbish museums in side, but the views were good.

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You can clearly see the hills that forced the Danube Bend. 

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The Palace, we opted to have an ice cream rather than go in.

Back to the same parking overnight … laundry done and BBQ, since we can.  And Corrie is now muzzled around here.