Days 104 – 111: Granddad James with Jade and Sarah

104 – Saturday:  See you soon Munchkin and Hello Jade

We set alarms for 6.00 a.m. – a very uncommon occurrence in Chardonnay.  Packed up once we finally got M up and were at the campsite barrier at 7.01 …. it opened at 7.00.  We made such good time heading to Marseille airport that will pulled over and two members of the group breakfasted on croissant and pan au chocolat.  We all then napped … my goodness … a second alarm clock in the same day!

K saw Maddy off at Departures.  Apparently being Squeezey Jet, passengers were all contained in an over stuffy tent.  Maddy getting over a cold and not feeling brilliant, felt much worse and bolted for the door.  The security guard asked what she was doing and M said she felt she might faint … she then promptly did so into his arms.  Consequence:  she managed to delay the flight a few mins, but the cabin crew did give her an aisle seat 🙂

K and J then drove to Biot, by Antibes to an over crowded and expensive campsite.  We need somewhere safe and local to Sarah and Jade to leave Chardonnay whilst we meet J’s new grand-daughter.  Showered and threw a few bits in a bag and caught the train into Nice.

K is not into babies, but Jade is the most chilled poppet.  Most babies seem to have an agonising screetch designed to demand attention.  Jade simply whimpers a little, then gurgles and smiles.


105 – Sunday:  Nice wander and Gaellic Football

K and J exercised … after two days absence:  K sweaty puddle but J managed a good 4 miles at a good pace.  Amazing to run around the head and along Le Promenade des Anglais.  And the hard core Nicois were out sun bathing by 9.30!

A second shower in two days and K’s fake tattoo has very nearly disappeared 🙂

We wandered into the town centre.  K and J were last here 18 months ago and the Place Macena was not quite complete.  It is now a real gem in the city centre – a long stretch of green, fountains and children’s climbing frames with a nautical theme.  Lunch and a wander back through the old town.


106-109 – Monday – Thursday:  Nice and Jade

It has been so lovely to spend time with Jade … sorry Sarah – you take second fiddle now!  She is such a poppet … K professes NOT to be a baby person, BUT ….

How could you not love this ...

What’s not to love?

Granddad was not prepared to lend a hand when we were entrusted with Jade ... machine gun fire followed by a stinky nappy.  Funny that!  K's first nappy in 14+ years..... it just about stayed on when jake held up!

Granddad was NOT prepared to lend a hand when we were entrusted with Jade … machine gun fire followed by a stinky wall paper paste nappy. Funny that! K’s first nappy in 14+ years….. it just about stayed on when I held Jade up! Could have been worse … Sarah had Jade producing sausages in the bath two nights running!

Just how beautiful!

Just how beautiful!

In between cooing, we managed a few walks into the old town, a light lunch at favourite restaurant, a bus ride up to a small town in the hills …. called Tourratte!  Poo, bum, arse … everything was shut until 2.00 and J had a Dr appointment in the PM, so managed a slow and hot walk and a coffee before catching the bus back.

We walked to the top of the  hill to discover the castle was hut until 2.00.

We walked to the top of the hill to discover the castle was shut until 2.00.

But views of the surrounding hills were worth it.

But views of the surrounding hills were worth it.

Fav dessert - Tiramasu!

Fav dessert – Tiramasu!

Of the 6 nights we invaded Sarah’s space for 4 nights.  Two nights were spent on the campsite … quite an experience for the uninitiated in high tourist area camping….

  • Cramped and tight pitches and road ways: needing a ‘spotter’ to move Chardonnay around due tight turns and overhanging trees
  • Most pitches given over to ‘statics’ … not camping at all!  Your could argue that – nor do we!
  • Regulation ridden:
    • one way systems with tight turns
    • we could not drive Sarah’s car onto the campsite … anywhere for 3 mins to spot for each other to vacate our pitch!  Not their problem!
    • the campsite pool cost EUR 2 despite the steep nightly fee of EUR 33 … why is it NOT included?
    • And the pool shut at 7 p.m., despite temperatures of 30 deg plus

It also boasted of a pizzeria, shop, entertainment etc … Great for families, but SUCH A DIFFERENCE to our lovely wild camps of Scandinavia.

We have to be balanced … the plusses for the site (admittedly few!):

  • Secure and safe parking for Chardonnay when we left her for a total of 4 nights
  • Close to the beach for a FREE swim
  • Close to the train EUR 9 or bus EUR3 for the both of us.
  • Dredging the positives … electric was included

J has been to Nice number of times / K’s 4th visit.  It feels like a second home.  We both ran varying distances and speeds along the Bay of the Angels and swam in the Med.  Wandered the old town and ate far too well.  A wonderful place to be (if a bit hot this time).  We gave up on trying to be be too active due the temperatures of 30+.  And actually after all our running around, it was really lovely to just be …. in Nice  … and with Jade and Sarah.


110 – Friday:  Nice Adieu and into Italy

Leaving Sarah and Jade with threats to return end January, we checked out of the cess pit of humanity (campsite) and drove along the coast to Italy.  We still had Sally the Sat Nav set to non-toll roads, so she crawled us through Monaco (Country no. 11 this trip) and the coastal road of Italy, which is town touching town.  Given the warm temperatures, we were surprised to see so many greenhouses built into the terraced hillsides … we read later that this area is a main supplier of cut flowers.

Italian driving is renowned and not in a good way … but peak season and add in tourists and pedestrians and you have mayhem.  After about an hour of numerous near misses (well, that it is what it felt like) and not many miles covered, we re-programmed Sally to include motorways.

Due to traffic issues …. motorways slowing due to weight of traffic, we headed up the hills to a Parking in Cassella, but there were no other motorhomes there so we ploughed on along hilly and bendy roads to Torrigino (!) and a busier Parking …  one motorhome had a flower arrangement on their table!


111 – Saturday: Torrigiana and kindness and Into Tuscany and major heat!

We headed for a wander into the town.  Kindness Number 1:  A chap called after us and J was able to put his sentence ‘no parla Italiano’ into good use … but they chap managed to explain that if we headed up a different street … we would see stone typical of the area. We duely climbed up the hill (getting hot by now) and made it to the castle on the hill … did i mention, it was on a hill and hot?  The castle was shut!

The castle on a hill

The castle on a hill

Another one shut!

Another one shut!


Back down to the town, we needed a few green beans for the slow cooker soya casserole … Kindness No. 2: the green grocer saw how few I had in a bag and basically told me to flit … he ws not going to put a few cents through the till!

We meandered down the hills, through hair pin bends and small towns to the coastal motorway and then into a Parking in Pistoia.  Apparently they made pistols here.  the clue is in the name.  It still has metal works, but the main industry is train engines and carriages  manufacture … we saw some on the drive in.  Apparently also, it has a lovely town square which we had had the intention of walking to …. high humidity and 38C put paid to that.  So this afternoon we did …. nothing.  Trying not to move and to keep hydrated.

Amazing how easily things can be mis-understood!  Text conversation with Maddy!

Amazing how easily things can be mis-understood! Text conversation with Maddy!  I was complaining about the heat!

Amelia … a very Happy Birthday … so looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow X




Days 98 – 103: Paddling, Tattoos, Tyres and Maddy Munchkin

98 – Sunday:  Mega exercise

K and J did a sluggish run.  Zozo and Louis, who had shown us the route two days ago, both declined to accompany us.  Funny that!

Niecey then showed K and Louis the way with the new Pilates DVD.  Most excellent backwards roll Niecey!


Exhausted!  And canoeing to come!

The Aged P’s departed with a few unwanted Nordic layers … less then they brought out to us … so we can argue that our piles in their attic are less …. not sure they would agree we have made much of a dent though!

After lunch down to the river near Aubeterre for canoeing.  Louis was solo, but after assuring James that Niecey would NOT capsize him … K with Zoe and J with Niecey.  Just at the point of departure Clare and co started bigging up the ‘OBSTACLE’.  Something to do with a disruption of the river flow!  We were taken up river with the canoes and left to wend our way gently down stream, enjoying the peaceful sounds and sights of nature … NOT.  We had attempted boardings, attempted oar stealing, zig zags from one bank to the other (K and Z), ramming and turning each other around.  Louis’ new rubber sandal went overboard in the attempt to draw him off.  The obstacle was a weir … with a chute and then a drop for canoes.  None of us managed to topple out, despite being told to hang on … quite what to we are not sure!  Zozo decided to ride the canoe like Boudica until she toppled in.  K then joined her for a river walk but could not re-enter the canoe until it was fairly shallow.  The picnicking family only offered her water (bah!) when she asked for ‘un petite verre”!  Zozo, fed up by now with standing in the canoe became the masthead, but at the back and sabotaged any directional work K was doing.  Exhausting! And memorable!

James and Niecey ... she kept her promise not to capsize him.

James and Niecey … she kept her promise not to capsize him.

Louis with the technique!

Louis with the technique!

Zoe as masthead

Zoe as masthead

K now really exhausted and abandonning Zozo!

K now really exhausted and abandonning Zozo!


99 – Monday:  Chalais market, Tattoo and Tyres

A wander around Chalais market and the obligatory cafe – grand creme.  It’s all Niecey’s fault … she suggested it!  K ended up with a tattoo on her arm …. similar to henna so it will fade.  Unlike Maddy’s new tattoo, a Taurus branding on her thigh done in Lanzarote last week.

Am I really doing this?  Bright idea Bakers!

Am I really doing this? Bright idea Bakers!


Answers on a postcard as to what it says!

Also managed to fill up the 2 x 5l emptied water bottles with Merlot at EUR2.40/litre.

A huge lunch ‘formula’ in Bonne and then K and J were dropped off at Chalais Tyres, where we had left Chardonnay in the morning, to await delivery and fitting of two new front tyres.  We had just got the damp laundry out to hand off the bike rack and J was just about to sleep off his boozy lunch, when the tyres arrived and were fitted.

Zero fuel so we headed to the Intermarche, sorry but our delivery did not arrive …. nearest was almost back at C2’s house, which we made on vapour.  Finally we set off in the vague direction of Bordeaux.  Stayed the night on a Bordeaux Grand Cru vineyard … the only motorhome there so very peaceful.

C2:  we forgot to write in your visitor’s book.  Our official entry …

Amazing free pitch with great company, free electric, pool and washing machine to be abused.  Extra services include hair dying and motorhome washing.


Day 100!!!  Tuesday:  Maddy Arrived

We collected Maddy from Bordeaux airport via the biggest Carrefour we have ever seen.  The whole retail area was infinitely bigger than Cribbs Causeway in Bristol!  There was even a store devoted just to Table Football.

Poor Munchkin had come back from burning the candle both ends with what she described as ‘Fresher’s Flu’.  Dosed up, she pretty much slept, so we put some miles arriving at a campsite in Crayssac (Cahors area).  Yes we could BBQ and with coals and they had a pool.

K revealed her ‘tattoo’ and Munch was not taken in for a moment that it was real …. mostly amused that K would be stuck with it for about 2 weeks!

A quick dip and then supper.  The band started warming up and were pretty good … a tribute to a French singer that we’d not heard of and nothing like typical Eurovision French music.  We wandered down to listen with our chairs and a plastic jug of decanted Merlot … classy!

Cannot believe that we have been travelling 100 days.  It has been the most amazing experience.  Loving it.

101 – Wednesday:  Cahors and Saint Enemite, Gorges du Tarn

Hilly and humid runs for K and J.  It started to rain as we stuck camp, but we just got M’s tent down in time.  We had planned to stop in Cahors for a coffee but the rain was still teeming down.  And cars were all teaming into Cahors; probably everyone heading in as a wet day destination.  So we kept going.  Given the weather and Maddy’s cold we turned it into a driving day.

Stopped in the Gorges du Tarn.  Scenery remincient of some of the Scandinavian drives … steep sides and J did not look down much as he was driving.

A tight turn into our campsite …. alongside the river.  BBQ on the Cadac Safari gas grill.thumb_P1050847_1024

102 – Thursday: River Walk to Saint Enimite and Saint-Gilles

Again, Maddy slept whilst K and J ran.  After striking camp, we left Chardonnay on the pitch and crossed the bridge to the pretty path that led to the village of Saint Enimie for a coffee.

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Typical chimney

Typical chimney

Maddy and I used to make such twig houses when she was little

Maddy and I used to make such twig houses when she was little


We had planned to stop for two nights within 1 hour of Marseille airport, but the traffic around Arles had other plans.  Gendarmes in force, bouchons as far as you could see in all directions and cars abandonned in favour of walking home.  We headed off a round about down the only road that was clear – and onto a Peage.  Our first since the start of our trip, but we got off the motorway quick incurring a classe 2 toll of only EUR1.70 and headed south.

J googled a campsite in Saint-Gilles on his phone, but actually we could NOT have missed the huge banner across the road.  To get a pitch that would take the >8m of Chardonnay and allow us to open the door, we ended up on a pitch with electricity … such expense!  But we have a super large pitch and put the awing out!

Gas BBQ again and K got stuck into Apperol with sparking wine … thanks to Steph at Cotham for telling me about it …. absolutely spot on for a hot evening.


Breakfast … actually wearing some of it!


Is this what I ordered?


That Englishman abroad again!

Pilgrims old church

Pilgrims old church

How Maddy occupied herself whilst we wandered the cemetry ... Ugh, it's full of dead people!

How Maddy occupied herself whilst we wandered the cemetry … Ugh, it’s disrespectful!

103 – Friday:  Lazy Lunch and swim

No exercise today … both feeling indolent.  A leisurely getting started … but then a hive of industry.  K scrubbed and pounded, whilst James wrung and squeezed!  Whilst all this laundry was being washed and hung out … Maddy slept!

We wandered into Saint-Gilles:  it is on the pilgrim route from Italy to Compostella, so an old church and we wandered the ancient cemetery.  Some of the old gravestones had signs stating that they were to be reclaimed … lack of use or rent?!  One wonders what happens to the bones of the outgoing incumbent as the new arrives!

Ate far too much at a restaurant along the canal, where we fortunately had a breeze.  Staggered back to the campsite … this is where a wheel barrow would have come in handy for our distended stomachs.  K and M to bronze and cool off by the pool and J to nanny nap in the van, until he also came for a cooling dip.

Our PA in England had emailed all sorts of admin jobs, so we dealt with these and relaxed … hoping the heat will abate later.  We have an early start … will leave at 7.00 tomorrow to drop Munchkin at Marseille airport.

Our pitch

Our pitch

Days 91-97: With K’s Family and a bit of J’s

91 – Sunday: Quirky Chateau

We rose early – dawn had cracked – and the fearsome two went off to exercise – J to run – and K to run – K did 20 minutes for the first time!  Cooling down in the shade of our awning – and Monsieur le Chateau appeared to ask if we were ready for le visite – in 15 minutes!  Still gasping for air – we dressed (how to dress for a Chateau visit?) – the ultra casual look – watch Victoria Beckham next week…..  Cafe first in the Chateau kitchen with mega small talk in French, which left James doing lots of nodding confidently – in fluent French nods.  3 Hours later, he had learned no more of the language – but some about life in the area in the 15th Century…  K’s nodding was more impressive as it was accompanied by the spoken tongue.  The lady of the Chateau had worked as the curator for 100 years:  researched the residents and their relations, the costumes and food etc of Medieval times.  When the castle was due to be sold, her life work was to be dismantled, so she and her husband ended up buying it.

inner courtyard with mannequins to depict Medieval life.

inner courtyard with mannequins to depict Medieval life.

Chateau with moat

Chateau with moat

The van was readied for takeoff – and it was pointed towards – a village for facilities and a nap for the elderly gent !  Then SatNav was programmed for a France Passion near le Puy de Dome – volcanoes and amazing countryside (any other kind in France?)….. the Passion – a lovely farm where K stocked up on the local produce – Ferme Guy.

More about the volcanoes on the Monday blog…..


92 – Monday and Monts, volcanoes – and a cool train…

AM after some strange animal shriekings – could be some pigs still celebrating the end of the 30-year war – or asking not to be slaughtered ?  To the ritual exercising – between Coheix and Mazaye (impressed by my local knowledge? I read road signs… I still cannot find the towns called “Sortie” and “Rappel” on the map of France – but I also failed with “Ausfart” in Germany – not an Aussie wind? J’s running was less Coheixive – maybe a small muscle twinge ?   We motored to le Puy de Domes – parked in the heat and boarded a dinky train up to 1500 metres – sheer drops on one side – J went looking for the emergency braking system…..   A collection of dome shaped volcanoes which are hugely impressive; some have a crater and some water.   Paraglider trips for 80 Euro – we passed on that one – back on the train down the mountain and lunch in the van – amazing what K can do with sardines…..

EUR80!  But not for us.

EUR80! But not for us.

Le Puy de Dome train

Le Puy de Dome train

The volcano craters

The volcano craters

The temple ruin at the top

The temple ruin at the top

Another ruin at top!

Another ruin at top!

To the road again (9000 miles in 3 months thus far) – via more motorhome facilities – we get so excited at emptying toilets and filling with water – and LPG – you all need to experience the backdraft of the LPG nozzle when it’s released – a real Ausfart !  To Engletons to overnight outside a pottery facility – free of course.


93 – Tuesday: Hot @ Hautfort

We were parked up in the shade and had NO excuse not to do cleaning inside Chardonnay.  We keep saying that it looks so lovely when we do a clean that we should do it more often, but it is amazing how many other things get in the way!

We drove to Hautfort. Used the aire facilities again, which were free 🙂  K spoke to another motorhomer who was parked up on a large patch of crispy grass … yes this land belongs to the mairie and you can stay here overnight.  We lunched and had every intention of walking up to the Chateau … K even read the guide book about how the previous owners had fallen in love with the dilapidated ruin and restored it …. twice, due to a fire.  However, it got hotter and hotter and we would have expired on walking up the hill.  All we could think of was how lovely our friend’s pool near Besancon had been when we were really hot.  Wifi switched on, google used and a quick phone call … campsite at Brantome with pool and no need to book.  45 mins later we handed over the £15 for our pitch and an hour later we were in the pool.  Quite an expensive price to pay for a swim, but Oh so worth it.

We BBQ’d sausages purchased from the pig farm Passion on the gas grill whilst watching a muppet add liquid BBQ lighter to an already lit BBQ!  The people on the adjacent pitch were obsviousy as startled at the father’s antics as we were.  He proceeded to try to cook immediately (coals not yet hot), which took such a long time that the three patient daughters filled up on bread.  You get to see all sorts camping – often entertaining.


94 – Wednesday:  Brantome and on to family

We had a wander around Branttome.  Half a thought to have a menu for lunch, but being touristy, the prices were double what we had seen in other towns.  Settled for an ice cream instead.

Of course J doesn't need to visit this salle!

Of course J doesn’t need to visit this salle!

Brantome Abbey

Brantome Abbey


Set off for C2’s holiday house just north of Chalais.  K had received detailed instructions from her mother and maps from her sister …. it was fail safe to prevent getting lost.  As it happens, we pulled off the main road at the start of the instructions only to have a mad English car flashing us like mad from behind …. K’s Aged P’s who had come from the other direction were arriving at the same time.  They over took us and we followed them in to c2’s house … un convoi exceptionel!

Swim in the pool and BBQ … just lovely to be with the Aged P’s, Clare, Chris, Niecey, Louis and Zozo and the two hounds.  Proper family time.

House surrounded by sun flowers

House surrounded by sun flowers

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We brought our own accommodation

We brought our own accommodation


95 – Thursday: Chalais and Aubeterre River

K and J drove into Chalais, the main functional town, as Chris called it.  Stocked up un petit cafe, bought the last of the wine shop’s EUR2 / litre merlot, which was due to be filled up into 5 litre water containers bought and emptied specifically for this purpose … will have to go back Monday.  And ordered two new tyres for Chardonnay … we are assured that they will be delivered to the tyre place on Monday and we will receive a phone call to take Chardonnay down.  Just means that we impose on the C2 hospitality a night longer, as had planned to head off to Bordeaux on Sunday.

Back to Perichat for lunch and then we drove down to the river by Aubeterre.  The town council kindly create a dam across the river using a whopping inflatable sausage creating a large and deep swimming area, install diving platforms and a life guard.  We sunbathed, relaxed and swam, trying to avoid all the other British. Louis skated to the corner shop for ice creams.

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On the way back we climbed up the Moulin … Clare engaged gravel mode on the dirt track.


View from the top.

In the evening we went to a lakeside concert.  The local small restaurant and campsite host a series of free concerts …. and sell a LOT of pizza & burgers and beer.  This evening’s offering was the Blues night.  A Belgian four piece, technically and musically extremely good.  Unfortunately for us, they sang in English, so we could understand the lyrics.  Memorable lines, such as:

– what is that I see between your shoulder blades …. virginia creeper

– my wonderful wheelchair

– my father had a dog, who sat salivating outside the butcher’s

– i want to be press-ent-able at my fun-er-al

We won’t be buying the CD!

Niecey, Louis and Zozo

Niecey, Louis and Zozo

Ready and waiting for the performance to start ...

Ready and waiting for the performance to start … hats to the ready!

The Band!

The Band!

96 – Friday: Riberac Market and J’s Family

We ventured en masse to Riberac for our morning coffee and to visit the stunning market.  French markets are usually good value for fresh produce and clothes / gift, but this one was par excellence.  Bought all sorts of bits, from 3x magnification readers to a child’s handbag and foie gras!

Not for sale

Not for sale

Back to Pericat for lunch then we set off to meet J’s son and family at Lac de la Cadie.  we built an almost impregnable one for the captured crayfish … not enough to take home for the BBQ.

Ready for the off in Chardonnay

Ready for the off in Chardonnay


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97 – Saturday: Aubeterre, history and jobs!

We had our morning coffee in Aubeterre and then a wander around the town.  Built on a cliff with a sub-terranean church (for another time) and lots of narrow streets.  As we walked through an old codger, stopped K and J and gave a mini history into his street.  This was the oldest building with a massive cellar that stretched across the street to the cliff and had a window looking out onto the chateau.  This was the site of the old wooden bridge which was the main entrance to the medieval town.  This was the wall that was adjacent to the route to the old bridge and went a further 7 metres below.  This was the building that was having some renovation work and when they peeled back the plaster they discovered the remnants of windows and a big arch door … it had been a church … you could see the outlines of windows and door.  He told the story that an old neighbour living there was complaining that her dog kept digging up the garden.  After a while said hound brought her a petal cadeau … a human bone … the garden had been the cemetery!

Free ice lolly poses …

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Thanks Zozo...

Thanks Zozo…




Spot the odd one out ...

Spot the odd one out …

Both smiling at the same time ... a minor miracle

Both smiling at the same time … a minor miracle

Back to Perichat via the Super U supermarket for K, J and Aged P’s.  The Aged’s off tomorrow and needing travel fodder / K&J cooking for all tonight.

Niecey, Louis and Zozo: you really should not take selfies on my iPad – i will find them!

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Jobs afternoon … a full family affair! 

–  Gran and Zozo on the skunk like strips attacking K’s hair.  Gran, you really should not wear hair white trousers around hair dye!

– James, Chris, Niecey and Louis on cleaning Chardonnay.  Poor Chard was sooooooo filthy (she’d not been abluted since Copenhagen and done thousands of miles since).  Chris jet wash king.  Niecey and Louis ATTACKING the blood bath of dead insects on the bonnet and then up the extendable ladder to clean the roof.

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cleaner than she has ever been ... thanks troops

cleaner than she has ever been … thanks troops


Check out the reflection in her side …







Days 88- : Blimey – its hot!

88 – Wednesday:  Driving and France Passion

Made contact with a friend who has a house just west of Besancon… ‘yes come on over’.  But by the time we exercised, tidied up and put the Sat Nav on and set the settings against Peages, we decided we did not have enough time to get there in one day.  We basically drove.  Stayed overnight in a France Passion … nothing to do with our sex life!  France Passion are farms and small businesses with a bit of space around them who allow 3-5 motothomes to ‘park’ overnight.  We used them last year on several trips and nearly all were pretty fabulous.  This one was in a tiny village called Midreveaux on a small cow farm.  We had the parking to ourselves so got the table and chairs out.  Quick walk around the village and back for a glass …. gin straight from the freezer :).  It is warm.


89 – Thursday:  Blimey it’s hot!

With the heat starting, we staggered around our exercise … J made of more resilient stuff as K kept getting overheated and having to drop to a walk 😦

Sally Sat Nav took us down LOTS of VERY SMALL roads; fortunately little traffic.  Arrived at our friend’s house: offered and gratefully received a cold drink followed by a dip in the pool.  The pool has only been open two weeks and the surroundings are still work in progress.  But the pool …. 32C and the water like silk.  Just brilliant.  According to the thermometer, the afternoon reached 41C.  Blimey it’s hot!

We dined out in style at a restaurant called the Cactus … French chef whose Mexican wife is front of house.  Don’t know where we put it given our reduced stomachs from our meagre and healthy rations from travelling Scandinavia, but we all managed three courses and a coffee.


90 – Friday:  Thunderstorm and Hotter!

Having had a bellyful of food and wine last night, the exercise went awol this morning.  Started to feel humid and then a thunderstorm making it more humid.  We left about 11.00 just as the sun started with some heat …

Stopped at Beaune as James had not seem the Hotel de Dieu, a charitable hospital, still in use since C15. It has a very recognisable roof and is still part funded from its own vineyard sales.  Not sure how that works on the PC front … wine and health!  Absolutely boiling, airless and humid walking around the Hospital.  Our ice creams were melting faster than we could eat them.  Spot the Englishman abroad!  Note, no socks though!

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Drove onto a place called Digoin on the Loire.  We are in a large aire de camping car.  It has facilities and were able to empty the chemical toilet.  Attempted to pay for water using a variety of credit and debit cards, but the machine was not having any of it.  The weather app says it was 38C – think real feel must be higher as it is soon debilitating.  All windows and roof lights are wide open.

Maddy sent me a pic of her and her best friend on a camel; apparently it was very sassy … the camel that is!

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90 – Saturday: Vichy, funnily enough known for water!

Decided the aire was a rubbish place to overnight.  Not just the insect sort, but gnats (mopeds) and little boy racers used the large car park as a circuit until about 4.30.  And this on top of the noise and tannoy from the boules tournament going on below and, of course the heat.  We both slept in the nud, with all the windows open … serve anyone right, had they looked in.  But we were in good company as the other 13 ‘vans all did much the same, although i can’t vouch for their sleeping attire!

Not much at Digoin, but a rather pretty viaduct canal over the Loire river.  Both J and I used it for our exercise … as we were late up and it was starting to get hot, I Norked, but J ran.

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We lunched and a neighbour helped us with buying the jeton for 100l of drinking water …. he had rung the supplier of the point de service earlier and sorted out the problem I had the day before.  Both us and Chardonnay fully replenished, we set off for Vichy.



Vichy was the home of the collaborative government during WW2, but next to nothing is made of this.  It is all about the spa drinking waters.  And the waters came and got heavier as we started to explore  …. I am sure the droplets were twice normal size.  We sheltered in a coffee and cake shop :).

Then had a quick look at the park and the source of one of the springs.  We did not go for a prescription of waters … apparently you have to book the Dr 3 months in advance!

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We did not linger in Vichy as we would have been washed down a gully.  We found a France Passion about 40 mins from Vichy at a chateau in Vicq.  As we arrived, we were shown onto a proper hedged camping spot.  Offered water and electricity, which we did not need.  Asked if we would like to attend the theatre production this evening; which we declined a J has little French and I would also have found it hard work to follow.  By now the weather was on / off sun and rain, so we actually managed to get the awning out and sit out for our drinks and meal.  Bear in mind that France Passion are supposed to be a arrive with what you need, leave nothing and few facilities, if any … these camping pitches over looking the Charolais white cattle were quite special.

K even made a mossie / wasp trap, which sadly did not catch even an ant, but has brought it with us and is determined to show it works.

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First Nights of Gap Years Proper


After 4 nights imposing ourselves on the Aged P’s; eating their food and abusing the washing machine.  Chardonnay MOT: not due yet but you can’t get one in Euroland despite all the legislation for standardisation!  Weighbridge: Yippee.  Payload of 4.2 tons so can order loads of wine boxes from Calais Majestic for Scandinavia. 🙂

Left C2 house, where we parked Chardonnay whist away in Jordan; nearly could not exit the gates as one refused to open!

Drove to stay with the amazing Ian and Jimmy in Rusty.  Really lovely to see Ruth and Brian, who were very much around during my formative years.  Most excellent start to our travels.  Must make Rusty the UK exit and entry points.  BBQ, wine and hot tub, can’t say better than that and a chance to talk about Nicky.  Lovely to take Jimmy to school with Ian and then off.

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Left Rusty, somewhat dehydrated – Ian it was your idea to start drinking at 2.00!  Crossed to Euroland courtesy of Tesco tokens and the Tunnel – business as usual :).  Downloaded a budget APP and entered our £45 per day.  Immediately into deficit as collected 14 wine boxes from Majestic.  Sadly, it did not even look to be much and it has to last us round Scandinavia.  Saved on coffees as made these in Chard.  The APP does not seem to recognise the £8.00 I saved/did not spend!  What is useful is that it allows rollover and I can categorise budgets.

Over night at a France Passion (no, nothing to do with nookie – they are free single overnights on Farms / vineyards etc for an annual subscription ).  We have a view of rolling hills, fields being slowed and spotted a hare.  Despite this Passion being an Auberge and having a menu at EUR18, we refrained and saved / did not spend by eating a Sainsbury Chicken Tikka Masala tin!  made inroads into our first wine box 🙂