861-864: Pootling Around Provence

861 – Tuesday 10th October 2017:  A Change of Plan

We stopped to change pilots en route to Castellane – K walked Oscar towards the town of Entrevaux – and lo and behold – roofs of motorhomes in a not too distant car park!  Well, we moseyed on down to find – an aire beside the Chemin de Fer rail line…  should we stay, we asked ourselves? Amazingly, we answered – ‘why not’?   Jez settled easily into the aire – and your faithful correspondents dragged themselves into town for a meander and forced down a glass of wine…sitting in the sun.  Another poetical piece (featured by K on this glob, sorry blog before):

“What is this life if full of care

we have no time to stop and stare”

We do.  We’ve seen many hill towns with Gated entrances and narrow streets – they never fail to impress…

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Entrevaux.

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The main gate….

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The cathedral.

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No cars and lots of small lanes.

862 – Wednesday 11th October:  Le Champ (Field – NOT), it was a Hill!

The intrepid team embarked on a 12k, 5-hour promenade from Entrevaux to La Champ, a nearby (?) hamlet. The uphills were rather steep (understatement of the day) and I developed a minor blister – pas de probleme…  Lunch in a squady share (you’re doing it again, James – behave s’il vous plait!)  We saw the lady post, heard someone gardening – and ’the sound of silence’.  Memorial to 3 who died in WW1 with two of the same surname.

Right then – pay attention, Class of 2015-17!  Hands up who knows about “Earworm”?  It’s not a wriggly thing wot gets in yer eardrum!  Have you ever experienced a song, saying, poem or wotsit that gets into your head – goes round and round and you cannot shift it?  It is an “Earworm”!!!  It happens to me a bit – and it must be the correct term – because I found it on ’t’internet’.   Remedy – wash behind your ears? No, get busy with summit else – and hey presto, it worms it’s way out.  You cannot say we don’t try to educate our 3 readers – that includes you, Amelia, Diane and Grahame – or is it 4?   No, it’s more – Mags and ShIrls, Edward and Frances, Stephen and Kay – goodness knows – we could get into double figures!  

Back along the upclines and declines to our aire – K called to see an Estate Agent – part of our putative 2018 Provence house purchase…    My be difficult to find someone to manage change overs for potential holiday lettings, but a lovely town.  The search will continue.

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Vauban strengthened the citadel, and it has never been taken.  The old town has the gorge of the river on 3 sides.

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You can just make out the steep walk up to the Citadel.

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Our lunch stop at Le Champ.

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We ran out of water, so J replenished the bottles.  Hope there was not a dead sheep further up stream!

863 – Thursday 12th October:  A Short Hop to Annot

The town small supermarche was closed for hols so we found an Intermarche 5 minutes upstream. A brief rec. to a campsite by the local lake – the staff thought we might be sneaking a quick camper services – reassured them and off we went.  Thinks – we cannot avoid Annot – oh dear, a minipun – another aire!  An airy aire, you say!  This punning Annot continue!  Or, canit? I could can it, perchance?  Agreed, all round, James!  Considerate it canned, not far from Cannes!!!  

Another lovely town walk (ending with wine!) – the TIC gave us a very comprehensive walking leaflet – the walk seemed vaguely familiar – more anon. 

One of our motorhome neighbours at the aire – chatting – an intrepid traveller, advertising his travel company – invited us to supper with another neighbouring couple from the Voges. Lively evening and good chats – nice vino, curry, pasta and cheese dishes – but it “grew wondrous cold” (Ancient Mariner, again) later.  Tres froi….

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More narrow streets – Annot this time.

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Built into the rocks.

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864 – Friday 13th October:  Chambre du Roi Walk – It was not like this last time!!!

Ah, the walk – details from the TIC…  Back in 2012 ish, we took K’s daughter and friend Katharine for a week in Nice – we had a rented apartment on the 100th floor (ask K) in the Vieux Ville.  Train up into the hills for a promenade…. 18c in Nice – in the hills – cold and snow – it was January (Maddy thought we had arrived in Narnia). The walk (said to be suitable for baby strollers!) was slippery, hazardous with narrow paths and sheer drops, muddy – and some of us came down on our bottoms – very unfunny!   Today, it’s the self same walk!!!  How about that for coincidence?

This time, it was sunny, warm, firm underfoot – and bloody gorgeous!   The photos tell the tale better than I can…

News of the day?  After 7 months, I finally received my over-70 3.5 tonnes+ driving license from the good old DVLA – hurrah for the lads and lassies in Swansea!  Just need to lay my hands on it!

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You can just make out the narrow path behind J – imagine this with ice and mud!  The rock here looks like folds of a lava flow.

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In serval places, there are huge rocks and boulders forming arches.

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And we got quite high .. according the walk leaflet, we climbed 350m.  Doesn’t seem a lot, but hard on the knees on coming down.

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Surprisingly there is a chestnut and oak forest at the top.

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Pretty sure this is the same lunch spot where we ate with Maddy and Katharine.

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No chance of a nanny nap with Oscar nudging me to keep stroking him!

   

855-860: Passing to a New-Union & a Re-Union

855 – Wednesday 4th October 2017:  Passing on Good Wine!

We arrived quite late to the aire at Cornas, so the designated 5 van spaces were taken – we parked separately not blocking anyone.  Grahame and Diane had suggested trying the local vino – but no!  Out of our price range…..  we walked young Oscar between the vines – and rested our bones…

856 – Thursday 5th October:  Passing through the Luberon!

Driving through the beautiful Luberon National Park, we decided to return – explore more fully and investigate property prices. Stopped at Les Mees for the stunning rock formations…

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Stunning cliffs at Les Mees.

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Stayed at Dignes Les Bains – headed for Castellane but getting late and spotted an aire sign – not the one we’d stayed at before but closer to the town centre and along the river.  We walked along the river and it’s outdoor leisure complex of a boating lake, climbing wall etc.  One young lad was exercising his dog by being towed along on a skateboard – he then got the dog to dive into the lake off a pier …  the dog was suspended mid air for a nano second with all limbs out wide.

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The path along the river has a leisure activities; this is the boating lake.  And all with great mountain views. 

857 – Friday 6th October:  The New-Union … Meeting Cian

A.M. – K ran along the river with trusty O (not towed!).  I rested and brekkied, got Jez ready to sail – a quote from “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” seems appropriate here….

“The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast – and southward aye we fled”

(not sure whose blast roared loudest – Oscar!!!)

Southward brought us swiftly to Les Maurettes campsite where we had stayed last March/April – to see Sarah, Gareth and Jade and the new addition to the family – Cian.  Lovely site but office closed until 2:00 pm – a French/German couple were quite upset at their wait for a pitch where they could get a good TV signal – he wanted French and she was German, so they were loyal to their national TV stations.  They’d spent all morning moving the van and testing out pitches!  Much easier to not have a TV on board, like us.

The site was very busy. We got our pitch OK – the choice of one!  We seemed to be the sole GB van. A lot of French and Germans with the off smattering of Scandinavians.  Over our 4 night stay, there was relatively little movement off the pitches … the weather is still warm here – low 20s and obviously people are happy to stay for a longer time on the Cote d’Azur … understandable.

Sarah and Gareth brought 12-day old Cian to meet us – my new grandson – good Irish name (Cian Healy, front row for Ireland) a perfect baby for the perfect Grandpa Pig (?).  

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Proud Grandpa Pig.

858 – Saturday 7th October:  The Re-Union … 30 Years On

K here:  As well as heading back to Antibes to meet J’s new grandson, I also had an overnight flight booked to Gatwick.  A Thames Polytechnic (Greenwich Uni, depending on whom you talk to!) Business and International Marketing reunion.  Gill lives in Twickenham and I’d reserved a bed there and used her address for some very important post.  About 2 years ago, I frugally bought an iPhone 5c with only 8GB and have regretted it ever since.  Not being able to store more than 4 photos and virtually no apps has been a real pain.  When we were home in Bristol, Kay mentioned she was thinking of replacing her iPhone 6 …. she and Stephen both like their tech and frog leap each other with the latest.  So I purchased Kay’s phone and she posted it to Gill’s.  A quick cuppa with Gill and Gordon and I was off into town to buy a protective case for it … and thence soon after I’d swapped over and downloaded apps I wanted, with still loads of space left.  Oh joy!  Other things I notice are how sensitive the keyboard is and the screen is really clear.  Loving it.

The appointed drinks time was 5.00 and we managed a couple of Aperol Spritz before catching the train into St James’ for the reunion.  Gill and Bron (sadly Al was poorly and did not make it) are ‘me old muckers’, but I’ve not seen any of the others for 30 years.  Most were instantly identifiable … but wow, the girls really have aged well.  Not even approaching middle age … any of us.  Some had brought pix and the 80’s clothes and hair styles were very Bananarama!  It was a pretty alcofrolic evening with lots of laughs … Gill and I lost track of the time and had to do a 400m sprint across the concourse at Waterloo to catch the 0046.  

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A couple of Aperol Spritz before we set off.

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And none of us have changed at all!

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Gill and Bronwen.

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Not changed … Much!

 859 – Sunday 8th October: A Return to Nice is Nice

The next morning we giggled and exclaimed our way through Gill’s photo albums.  It was wonderful to catch up with people I’ve not seen for such a long time, but reunions are pretty much about curiosity and mine has been satisfied.

My 2.00 flight was delayed an hour due to a faulty laptop … seems mad that it took an hour to replace / repair something that is essentially disposable and not part of the plane’s infrastructure.  Polite announcements from the Pilot about our patience with the delay … as if we the choice!  Lovely to arrive back just in time to see the blue skies again.  Great time, but very great to be back with my boys.  

And guess who are so glad to see you back – the Boyzzz!

 

860 – Monday 9th October:  Jobs and Antibes

We both ran down into the local park.  J managed to get lost and had to ‘ring a friend’.  K found him on the Find a Friend app and navigated him back to base.

K started to ‘laundrify’ with the onsite facility – clothes line from tree to tree, jobs done including finalising my tax return/amount owed to HMRC – not too much… then out with the e-bikes for a jaunt to Antibes.  Oscar barked a bit to begin – then the Kay-suggested covering the Os-car solution kicked in – almost silence, again.  And not a bark on the return leg.  He’s learning :).  A visit to the e-cig shop to remedy a minor issue.  Ice creams (as always) although our favourite shop was closed. 

Tomorrow – “to fresh fields and pastures new…”

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Playing with my ‘new’ iPhone 6 – loving the camera definition.

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849-856: Wine Tasting with the Aged P’s

849-850  – Thursday 28th – Friday 29th September 2017:  E-Bikes Outing and Welshies

Wednesday saw us in a France Passion – eggs bought and then all day driving to Meung sur Loire aire for 2 nights  to sleep under autumn leaves falling…. the town beckoned – as did a glass of vin blanc…

A first e-bike ride with Os-car- a test? Mega thanks to Kay (and Stephen) for suggesting covering the Os-car with something to reduce his visibilty – and barking – hey, it worked !!! I didn’t bark at all ! Neither did Oscar…..Lunch and sedatecycling back to Jez. Some issues with the bikes were sorted by phone back to Brizzle. 

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Matching orange towel to block his forward view to match the Os-car (and his lead and harness!) 

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One of our new Kalkhoff bikes.

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Set lunch was a beautifully cooked piece of tuna with lots of veggies including a stack of wafer thin fried courgettes – yum!

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On evening number 1 a French chap approached us saying “Welsh!”.  Now James is Irish and I’m English.  He could only be talking about Oscar.  He was, and he had 2 Welshies – a mother and daughter.  He brought them over the next evening to be introduced.  Taking pix was not easy as they wouldn’t stay still and not even all at once for treats.  He told us that there are only 60 bred a year in France.  I later googled that UK numbers are dropping and a couple of years ago it was only 300.  Oscar – you’re a rare species!

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He wouldn’t let us keep even one of them!

 

851-855 – Saturday 30th Sept – Wednesday 4th October:  With Aged P’s

Cosgne sur Loire campsite – and the “Aged Ps” arrival to their chalet on site… They are not aged – but like fine wine, they are pickled – whoops, young…..  some imbibing took place.  It works well with Diane and Grahame renting luxury “huts” on our selected campsites around Europe…

Sunday, we discombobulated into town and had coffee – and the boys had Sancerre wine with croissants!  A large market was in full swing with a lot of local produce including crottins of goat cheese … we did not buy as we had our own little cheese store at home already..

Bourges on Monday – lovely cathedral (St Etienne) – gorgeous stained glass windows – and ? Lunch…… SkodaJane SatNav went a bit AWOL but we declined her invitation to drive across ploughed fields…

Tuesday witnessed an outbreak of “degustation” – a rare condition normally treated with care and wallet locks – it didn’t work this time. Although we watched the Aged P’s make several purchases fr themselves and on behalf of K’s sister and husband … not sure Clare and Chris had provided a budget, but they seemed happy enough.   

Sancere on Tuesday – Diane and Grahame went at the wine tasting with gusto and why not? We kept our respective bottoms up too…  The annual Rothbury AGM/staff lunch was duly called to order – and order we did – wine and good grub. 

One degustation offered a small cinema with chairs that mimicked the movement of ground in the vineyards and squirted water at us!!!  Oscar was not impressed and I took him out – with more gusto… 

Pm – Diane died K’s hair – played crib (victory spoils to Diane) – Grahame and I read and looked intelligent. The evening brought more cheese and a robust quantity of vino en Francaise… 

 

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Bourges was a really pretty town … nice to just wander and quiet being Monday, so all the shops were shut.

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The cathedral’s front entrance has been partially cleaned, but it really shows off the intricate carvings …

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… imagination running riot.

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Unearthed late C18, the original clacker on the left was used during Maundy to call people to worship as the bells had to be silence.  A similar principal and sound to the football supporters make with a rattle.

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The glass was varied in styles and truly stunning.

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On the side of the gothic Palais Jacques Coeur … looks like the figures had had a row.

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Just outside the only restaurant we found that was open.  It had only just opened when we went in and soon filled up with tourists and locals.  Surely it would be worth other restaurants opening on a Monday too?

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Sancerre:  It is on a rise and is visible from quite a way.  At the Museum of wine we learnt that the Sancerre wine comes from quite a large area, and Sancerre town is right at the southern part of it.

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Staff lunch.  J would keep calling it the Director’s lunch, but I had to put him right.  If the Aged P’s think they’ve been promoted to Directors they might start expecting voting rights!  The food was nothing special but the views and the service were….

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… and the cheese board was rather special, especially as he loaded our plates  🙂  We got to taste a mature Crottin of Chavigny, a local DOC … nice but prefer others.

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A wine tasting in the only natural underground cave in Sancerre and some more Aged P’s purchases.  Hardly room for Oscar in their car boot!

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Looking up to Sancerrre.