1163-67: French Scenery and Jez Troubles

1163-1164 – Into France

Monday 13th – Tuesday 14th 2019

Kerstin was off to work early, but we said farewell to our driveway hosts and set off in the direction of Nice … ferry to Corsica booked on 17th.

Easy drive to an aire near the motorway E of Besancon; Brognard with lakes to walk CO2 around.  Another driving day Tuesday to a France Passion in Vognes, Rhone Alpes,  and possibly the most beautiful France Passion we’ve stayed on.

IMG 3221

A slightly tight space, but so quiet at the top of the village.  We didn’t sample the wine, but bought a bottle and some pate.  

IMG 3223

IMG 3224

The scenery is just so attractive that EVERY time we drive through, we say that we must organise some serious time to explore.  But time is always so short, says I with no paid for work!


1165-1167 – Entrevaux and Van Issues.

Wednesday 15th – Friday 17th May 

We spent two nights on the free aire by Entrevaux station.  Super quiet as it is a single track line that goes form Nice up to Digne les Bains only every couple of hours.  In the summer, it is sometimes steam train.  We’ve stayed here before and fell in love with the village and region then … this was a serious contender for our property purchase.  On a walk we did see a 2 room shack with its own water supply, a veggie plot, solar panels and 3000 m2 of olive trees … yours for only EUR45,000 … just a single track path 1.5km out of Entrevaux.  On arrival, we ate in the village … I’ve not had trout with almonds for years but is was delicious and locally supplied.

IMG 3226

Entrevaux old town and citadel over.

IMG 3230

IMG 3231

IMG 3236

IMG 3238

IMG 3239

We took Jez into Nice caravans, which is a repair place and an Adria dealer to replace a wall door handle.  Fortunately they had just one in stock.  Good, as I had been putting all the cupboard contents into a washing up bowl whilst in transit … my string and double sided velcro had not worked!

Engine Trouble

On the way back up to Entrevaux, I wasn’t able to put Jez into gear.  Rolled over to the side of the road and switched the engine on and off a few times, before I could do a gear change.  All seemed fine.  But then on Friday evening when we were driving down to Nice for the ferry, we realised something was seriously wrong … pulling away, or when attempting higher revs, the engine sort of kangaroos.  Are we mad catching the night ferry to Corsica in a poorly van, I asked?  Oh well, they must have Fiat garages in there!  So once, we’d worked out how to actually get onto the quayside (which we really should have known as Sarah has a flat two streets away, which we’ve stayed in), we limped onto the ferry!  Must be the season for engine trouble as Meg has issues in Italy and now France, and Lin and Bo have just had a new gear box in Crete!


1102-1112: Friends and France

 1102- 1103: Leaving Home – Slowly

Wednesday 13th March – Thursday 14th March 2019

We both virtually killed ourselves cleaning and getting our stuff out of the house.  On our knees.  We left on the Wednesday and the first holiday visitors arrived on Saturday, so it had to be VERY clean.  James left in the van, and all I had to do was clean the kitchen floor, have a shower and then clean the shower.  And then follow in the loaded car.  Cleverly I stuck the clothes I was wearing in the washing machine, only to discover I’d not tightened the seal enough when I’d cleaned the filter.  Result … a bit of flood in the utility room.  At this point I realised that my clean clothes, I’d planned to wear were actually in the van with James … it was chilly naked kitchen floor clean and then I had to wait till my clothes were just dry enough to put back on!  Afterwards, I remembered I could’ve wrapped a towel around me!!  Told you I was tired … not thinking!  

Whilst parked up for 2 nights at the Fox and Goose pub in Greywell, we sorted out the van …. disposing stuff at the Aged P’s house … fortunately they were in South Africa and would have barred the door at how much we brought back to the house.  So I kindly sent them photos of each stage of loading boxes in and, mostly, up to the attic!

As we were staying in a pub car park, it would have been rude not to eat there … first night with sister Clare and Chris, and second night with Maddy. 

As well as a dentist for me, I lost 1.5 hours of my life in the vets, trying to get a form completed for the health cert that will replace the Pet Passport when / if there is no deal … only to discover the vet had the wrong form … the correct form would not be released by DEFRA for a few days!  As we moved along the south coast visiting friends, we rang various vets whether knew nothing, or did not have the right sort of vet in the practice.  A phone call to DEFRA established that the form would not be sent to vets until 20.03 … our Tunnel crossing was booked for early on 21st, and they could not tell me what time of day it would arrive.  Ho hum.  My DEFRA contact did go and check, when I asked, and confirmed that we could get the form done by any EU vet.  Nothing about this on their web site … or what people already in Eurozone are supposed to do.  No surprises there then!

IMG 2798

The Aged Ps were delighted that we took the twin tub from their shed  but not so pleased, we left an awning, dog run and shopping trolley (mistake!) in its place!

IMG 2804

Not to mention, what we left in the attic.  Dad had only recently remarked how spacey the attic had seemed after we’d emptied it!  They are not allowed to move house.

IMG 2800

Sarah and Mac … this one is for you … we stayed at the Fox and Goose and had to have a Butterscotch sundae – yummy.

 

1104-1109:Sleeping on Driveways!

Friday 15th March – Wednesday 20th March

With Jez the motorhome ready to roll, we set off for Eastbourne.  We met up for dinner both Friday and Saturday with friends staying in a hotel, whilst we wild camped in a street back from the coast.  It was a 1.4km walk each way but along the front, so perfect for the dogs.  Gale Eric was not so perfect, but we got blown one way and fought our way back.  

Sunday night saw us parked up in Rustington, straddling the drives of Ian and Jimmy and their most lovely neighbours, Ted and Marj.  We had a fishy lunch with a couple of my old muckers (Gill, Gordon and Al), who came down from London, Maddy, who came from Brighton, Mel and boys, Ian’s parents and Nicky’s parents Ruth and Brian.  Really lovely to see them all.  Not so lovely was my sense of being poisoned the next day … I blame Mel, who kept us drinking … a sea front run sorted that out though!  For us anyway … not saying who might have had a late start the next morning!

We took refuge on a campsite for a DRY night, and then spent a night on Sue and Mick’s driveway.  We met them in Greece and had another good night with them.  A slow start and off to the Canterbury aire.  Where I trawled ALL the opticians trying to find one that would sell me 4 months worth of 1.5 contact lenses!  I should specify +1.5 contact lenses.  Being new to using them, I’d ordered -1.5 (OK!  I thought the – was not a negative but a dash!) … I soon found my error on applying one to my left eye and my vision being so compromised to be dangerous!  A quick text to Lin and Bo, who we’d be seeing in a few days and they could be delivered to their home before they left!  Phew!

 

1110-1115: Arras and WW1 Sights

Thursday 21st – Tuesday 26th March 

We have never seen the Canterbury aire or Eurotunnel so quiet!  And really quiet!  So many people just haven’t travelled due to Brexit uncertainty.  Just hope we have remembered to cover all the documentation we need!

Meg had ferried from Hull to Rotterdam and we’d liaised that if the weather was OK, she’d delay her journey south and meet us in Arras.  We had such a lovely time, having coffee in the squares, at the market, doing the tourist sights and eating together in the evening … we all stayed 4 nights!  Arras is really close to Calais and is definitely worth a few days trip.  Blanche is a Papillon, the same breed that just won Crufts. She might be small and fluffy, but she doesn’t take any nonsense from CO2!

Meg left to head down through the Rhone valley, in the vague direction of Slovenia or Croatia, and we moved a short distance down the coast to Peronne and a campsite for 2 nights.  After 12 days away, we desperately needed a free and voluminous water supply to do some laundry … the twin tub was deployed all afternoon!  And the weather Gods smiled on us and send a good drying wind!

IMG 2816

Our home for 4 nights on the banks of a canal in Arras.  Great for running and dog walking.  And a short walk or hop onto the free electric noddy bus.

IMG 2817

Re-built as 80% of the city was flattened, in the original Flemish Baroque styles.  Several such squares.  Meg and I climbed the belfry … in a lift, and we all visited the Boves (caves) underneath, dug out for the chalk as a building material.

P1160555

I think it was 214 men who were executed here for their resistance work.  Their names line the walls. 

P1160560

The British cemetery.

IMG 2828

Meg and I visited the Wellington caves.  Also dug out for the chalk stone, but joined up and enlarged by 500 New Zealand engineers and British miners, so they could hold 20,000 Allies soldiers for a week before the Battle of Arras in April 9th 1917.  They were dug out by hand so as not to alert the German forces.They were homed here in secret and some of the tunnels went up to the front line.    The push gained the Allies 11 km at a cost of 4000 casualties on the first day.  Total deaths were 160,000 British Third and First Army and the Germans lost 125,000.  

IMG 2834

Having got all excited and dragged Meg into the town on Friday, as I’d not listened to both Meg and James that I was a day adrift, we finally caught the market on Saturday!  Huge market and I filled the fridge with veg, as well as half a rabbit (yummy).  We ended up buying a shopping trolley…. madness really as this was an item we’d left in the Aged P’s shed!  Spot Blanche.

IMG 2838

I toured the WW1 museum in Peronne.  It gave equal weight to the Allies and Germany and presented artefacts in a different way.  Really worth a visit too.  This is a British Officer’s tea making facilities for the trenches … for all as if going on a family picnic.  

IMG 2839

Rather than display uniforms and artillery in display cases, they were in ‘graves’ on the floor.  I hadn’t known that due the mechanisation, they had re-armour troops.  each country had its own styles of steel helmet, largely styled on native peasant hats.

1116-1117: Contact Lens Delivery!

Wednesday 27th – Thursday 28th March 2019

Electric cable and twin tub stowed away, we drove for less than an hour to Marcoing.  We had an assignation with my contact lens couriers!  We managed to throw in a meal and some wine, except Bo, who was the only one who showed restraint on the 0% lager!  Amazing Lin and I did not suffer a bad head, but both just felt shaky … needless to say the menfolk drove late morning when we eventually set off!  Lin and Bo (& Maud the cat) are heading in a leisurely way to Crete.  Tempting to join them, but we are headed to the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands and then to S Germany for Kerstin’s 50th; possibly Poland in between.  Who knows!

Oscar and Corrie’s Diary

Bon Jours mes enfants! Ici deux chiens – Corrie et Oscar et moi est Corrie – Le TopDog….. Alors – Oscar est ok-ish…  Nous avant en La Belle France, perchance.  My command of Franglais even surprises moi!  We are in France because our pets K and J say so.  As for the language skills, please don’t alert L’Acadamie Francais!  We’ve been to Arras, Peronne and Macoing – Lo and Bin and Maud we met – they’re good salty dogs (and cat). They imbibe a little but then – who doesn’t? K and J don’t know we steal out the gin when they’ve gone a bedding…. we clean our teeth to disguise the aroma. It’s all ‘mist to the grill’… I quite like ‘Trever Fee’ tonic. They say we’re going to someplace called ‘Neverthenlands’ – all water and canals filled with bicycles – a little boy stuck his pecker in a dyke to save people – it must been a big’un!  Oscar could do that, I think…  Well, we’ve moved on to Gouda – cheeses! Not the ones with holes in – that’s a place where the cheese is made by the little boys pecker!  Tonight J dragged us out in a thunderstorm!  Made my eyes water and my makeup ran… but I can borrow K’s makeup bag (later).

Ok – tot zien (Dutch) and watch out for stray peckers! 

Yours in treats, songs and sardines – its a good life….

Corrie and Oscar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

864-874: Provence Pligrimmage to Germany

865 – Saturday 14th October 2017:  Onto Castellane

A short drive to Castellane and into a paying aire.  All of EUR 6.50 for 24 hours but free services and right on the edge of the town.  We had a wander through the small old town.  The helpful lady in the TIC confirmed my suspicions that cycling the Gorges du Verdon with the Os-car would be dangerous and stressful.  We did this as a drive some years ago in our Bongo, and it was a magnificent drive, but not to be repeated this trip.  She suggested a quieter route to the lake just north of the town with an area where we could let Oscar run free.  That’s the plan for tomorrow then.

We walked up the path to the chapel on top of the rock … some nice views of the valley, but nothing special.  At the top there were three sets of dogs all on the leads – each one growled at Oscar who was loose.  I’d left the lead with James part way up, and bless, my boy behaved perfectly and came when called and sat by me as I admired the views.  He can pull it out of the bag when necessary.  But I am sure in a couple of instances the owners were transferring their own anxiety to their dogs … one daughter tried to convince her father that the dogs were friends … they may well have been given half a chance!

 A glass of wine (or two) and an ice cream and then back to Jez to sit on our riverside pitch enjoying the sun and the mountain views.  Life is good.

P1150009

The Chapel on the Rock over looking Castellane.

P1150010

Views form the top.

P1150012

P1150015

866 – Sunday 15th October:  Abortive Ride in Favour of Lunch

OK, so we had a plan – clean the inside of Jez (badly needed doing as possibly 3+ weeks since we’d done anything but the floor!) followed by the bike ride.  But then our mood changed.  We’d worked hard cleaning Jez, the sun is shining and it is Sunday lunchtime!  A walk into town just to see if we can find a reasonably priced lunch.  OK – we found lunch, but not the reasonably priced bit.  My Aged P’s laugh at us, that we state we are on a budget, but then coffee, ice creams and lunches seem to feature quite heavily on the blog.  The set menu was EUR27 for 3 courses; all very good, but the star was J’s caviar of aubergine with an anchovy cream.  A post lunch wander back to sit in the sun on our river bank pitch.  Life is indeed good!

 

867 – Monday 16th October:  With the Family

Anyone who knows us, will be aware that we have a 7 month saga of trying to get J his C1 post 70 years old licence.  He rang the DVLA and …. woohoo it has been posted.  The Aged P’s are due back from France tomorrow and can post it onto Kerstin in Germany.  Time to start planning to head that way.  But hold!  We are only a few hours away from Sarah and family in Biot and we don’t know when we will see them again … time to head for a quick stop to see them?  So we headed, via a supermarket shop to stock on on French specific items, back down to Biot and stayed over night outside their house.  Really lovely to have one final evening with them.

IMG 0022

Jade with ‘da rudder’.

IMG 1452

I haven’t done this for a loooong time!

868 – Tuesday 17 October:  What and Amazing Spot

We considered driving a different route to Reutlingen, Germany … through Italy and then north through Switzerland, along Lake Constance.  I investigated the Swiss road vignette … was it just motorways, which we could avoid?  No it is for class 1 and 2 roads.  OK … how much?  A no go … since we are 3.5+ tons, we cannot buy a standard vignette, but need to register our vehicle and then pay per kilometre.  A lot of hassle and cost for an overnight stay.  Switzerland must loose out on tourists not prepared to pay or deal with the hassle.  Back up through France it is then.

We stopped at an aire on a lake just south of Grenoble in a place called Treffort.  The aire is part of a leisure complex, including boats, and charges EUR10 for an overnight stay.  We nearly didn’t stop as we balked at the price for a quick overnight stop especially when we did not need the services.  We were tired though and asked another motorhome where to find the pay machine …. free out of season.  The other 5 vans were all hooked up to the free electric – we don’t consider it worth it for a one nighter.  Amazingly this area gets hardly a mention in our guide books, but the mountains are stunning, especially with the evening sun on the Autumn russets and golds.  This is a gem of a spot and definitely on our must come back to.  Must be a lucky spot, as I took Oscar out for his late night ‘opportunity’ and saw not one, but two shooting stars.  J has since read that Halley’s Comet is currently shedding debris, but how lucky am I?

Now I must mention supper … I had to attempt to recreate J’s starter of caviar of aubergine with anchovy cream.  It was not the same, but it was bloody good.  I really should start a recipe section on the blog.

IMG 0016

Inspired by fellow motorhomer Dan’s favourite socks, which a friend knitted him … thought I’d have a go too.  Managed not to drop stitches with knitting on the round and amazingly it came out sock shaped!  Just it’s pair to knit now.

P1150016

Our most stunning overnight spot.

P1150017

Should have taken the pix when we arrived and the sun was in the Autumnal hills.

869 – Wednesday 18th October:  

Another driving day, but we got just past Besancon:  Note to self … use the motorway to bypass it as it was very slow driving through it.  We stopped, once we found the right place at a free aire in Montebeliard … the original GPS coordinates were plain wrong, the second, close enough but not quite and then, thank you Wild Camping POIs – we got there in the end.  I was starting to have a hissy fit from being tired and hungry when J spotted the 4 dedicated spaces, and we squeezed ourselves in and had a thrown together ‘chef’s salad’ as it was quick!

 

870 – Thursday 19th October:  Onto Reutlingen

I texted Kerstin giving her the option that we could arrive tonight or tomorrow lunchtime … she is a Uni Prof with a stupid work load and strong work ethic!  Come tonight, as no lectures / meetings tomorrow.  We park up in a bit os spare land a couple of hundred metres from her house.  We could stay in her ‘guest apartment’ on the top floor, but we prefer our own bed.  The spot of land is used by some of the residents for parking but is destined to built on to house Syrian refuges.  Now, why is it these residences are generally for young men only?  Where are the women and children.  A village near Kerstin’s other house in Engers had the village population more than double due to the refugees … how is this integration?  Enough politics.

We had a great local walk as it really is quite rural here with some lovely views.  Supper in Kerstin’s downstairs kitchen (she has 3! Don’t ask how many loos!!) in front of the log burner.  🙂

 

871 – Friday 20h October:  Rottweil Towering

When we left here in August we headed to Rottweil, a pretty old town known for its painted buildings and iron shop hangers.  A new feature, not open in August, is the Thyssen Krupps lift tower.  It had just been topped out when we saw it before but now it is open to the public.  

A few facts:

  • 2640 tons of steell
  • 3.6 m progress per day
  • 246m highest visitor platform in Germany
  • 21m diametre
  • 16,000m2 tefloncoated self cleaning glass fibre fabric around the outside
  • 15 mins is the time the fastest employee took to climb the 1617 steps
  • 30 secs for the visitor lift
  • 12 shafts for lift testing
  • 1.5km of shaft
  • 18m/sec the fastest test escalator, about 65 km/hour
  • 240 tons active mass damper to balance wind forces
  • unique simulation to make the tower sway to mimic extreme conditions in which to test the lift.
 
Kerstin and I went up the tower first leaving Katherine with Oscar. Superfast elevator to viewing platform – immense views 360 degrees – I expected some wind movement – but nil – hence the success of the damping mechanisms…..
 
Kerstin stayed and I let K join her at the top – it’s over 800 feet in old money!  Incredible feat of German engineering – a world beater, definitely.  A brief walk around Rottweil, coffee, ice cream, of course – and back to base HQ.

P1150021

The cladding is the fibre glass self cleaning fabric just going on.  Quite a few worker abseilers.

P1150022

View from the top.

IMG 1472

P1150035

P1150038

The almost see through glass fibre mesh.

P1150039

A very small old prison in the centre of Rottweil, has a football captive!

P1150043

Perhaps this double tower was a forerunner of the Thyssen Krupps lifts?

872 – Saturday 21tst October:  Biking to Tubingen

The e-bikes reappeared – Kerstin borrowed one from her Uni – a quiet Os-car (mostly) and we sailed the short distance to Tubingen sedately. A lovely and lively town – world famous university. Lunch by the river in a busy restaurant – it was peak time – I had a local beer and K’s had wine.  We discovered that there is/was a Mr Alzheimer who studied in the town – medical science owes him a lot.  And Friedrich Miescher who discovered nucleic acids. A leafy park (the Autumn leaves are really falling, now…) and a magnificent building completely covered in street art/graffiti…   Another splendid day in Germany!

P1150044

The pretty old town.

P1150046

The waterside restaurant where we had lunch later.  Spot the punt – reminiscent of Cambridge?  

P1150049

History has not been changed here … this statue was allowed to remain even though it is is of a composer whose works were later adopted by the Nazi Party.

P1150052

The lab within the castle and part of the university where Miescher worked. 

P1150055

P1150056

View down to the old town hall.

P1150059

So lovely to not be tour guide for once!

P1150060

The main town square.

P1150062

P1150065

You can just make out the Os-car and our bikes were very safe … it takes 20 mins to fix all the locks.

 

873 -Sunday 22nd October:  A Chocolate Pilgrimage

Yesterday, it was 18C and nicely warm – today dawned at 6C and never got above “very cold” – I know – we’re softies these days, chasing the sun around Euroland…  Yesterday’s cycle ride was about 14k – today was to be approx 60k!!!   Extra layers of clothing – and my Orkney wooly hat was packed – it very soon made it from the saddle bag to my head!   K worm cashmere tights under her trousers.  Forest trails, uphill and down dale – thank goodness for the e-bikes for that extra power – more excellent German engineering… We reached the Ritter Sport chocolate factory (nobody called ‘Charlie’ there, though) and museum, after 3 hours in the saddles. I believe it was getting colder – coffee – and it rained…. The 2 Ks toured first and then I followed suit.  Mega chocpurchases later, we pointed our pelliton towards Reutling.  Our bike batteries had run down quite a bit – we hoped they would see us powered home.   Katherine and I swopped batteries as she needed the extra oomph to tow his nibs.  Not long later, I ran out of power. Now, this meant I was back to cycling a non-powered bike – as we had done for years – no problem?  Yes, problem – these machines are much heavier than standard cycles…..  I got used to walking uphills. The girls offered to seat me in a bar and fetch Jez – but the indomitable Irish spirit declined the kind offer (madness?). It rained again and I swear it got even colder.  K:  My Hero 🙂

The journey home was a bit shorter – thank goodness – and no sooner in the door of KerstinHaus, we wrapped ourselves around some good Muscatel – and Kerstin lit her roaring log fire/Aga stove…

Oscar had barked his way home solidly at the end – why? Even K telling him p**s off didn’t work.  Think it might have been dinner time! But a fantastic day, again – in the Arctic/Germany – well worth the conditions. We are definitely getting softer…..  would we survive a Winter in the British Isles – no!!!

P1150067

Two slaves for one turkey … know which I’d rather have.  But where to put them in Jez!

P1150069

Clare Ritter invented the square bar so people off to exercise could put a bar in their top pocket without breaking.

Oscar’s Diary

“Guten Tag, mein herren und damen” – that’s German, you know – boyos!  Now then, these ‘owner’s of mine have shown me quite a few countries since last August when I allowed them to adopt me from Solihull… All excellent fun – and some games. J is doing nicely with his ‘playfighting’ lessons – he gets carried away with the biting thing – but dammit, he’s only 70, after all – some concessions to age must be made.  Where was I going with this?  Yes – the chocofrenzy pilgrimage thingy wotsit – of yesterday!  Ok, I pretend I don’t mind the Ocarcarriage to humour them – but – they put me in the pram – in zero temperatures, bounce me along 60k of forest trails, up and over kerbstones, etc. – and they have the cheek to tell me not to bark!!!  The European Caninevention of Human Bites – section 13 para 6 – clearly states that a K9 must not be subjected to ‘bouncing, freezing and kerbing’ in any vehicle – my owners are in clear contraflagration of the law.  My remedy before the courts?   Freedom to bark, extra rations and bedrest – at my leisure…

Yours, respectfully (with bedsores) 

Oscar

 

874 -Monday 23rd October:  A Water Pilgrimage

The Ks left J minding Oscar and Jez and made a return visit to the Spa they visited back in August.  Two exercise classes, two Zen steam rooms, massage jets and various pools of various temperatures, they returned somewhat wrinkly.  J tidied and sorted and blogged.  Our last night here, Kerstin has to return to the day job, until we get the nod that the green cards for the Balkans have arrived.  





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…

P1140930

Entrevaux.

P1140934

The main gate….

P1140935

P1140936

P1140939

The cathedral.

P1140940

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.

P1140941

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

P1140944

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

P1140948

P1140957

Our lunch stop at Le Champ.

P1140959

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….

IMG 8859

More narrow streets – Annot this time.

IMG 8860

Built into the rocks.

IMG 8866

IMG 8868

 

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!

P1140965

P1140967

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.

P1140978

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

P1140981

P1140986

P1140990

P1140992

P1140994

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.

P1140996

P1150001

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

P1150003

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

P1150007

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…

IMG 1418

Stunning cliffs at Les Mees.

IMG 1419

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.

IMG 1424

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 (?).  

P1140927

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.  

IMG 0001

A couple of Aperol Spritz before we set off.

IMG 0724

And none of us have changed at all!

IMG 0725

Gill and Bronwen.

IMG 0726

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…”

IMG E0006

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

IMG E0006  1