518-523: A Surprise for Dad’s Planned 80th

518 – Thursday 27th October 2016:  Collecting the Surprise

Grahame and Diane had no idea that Kerstin (Kooky Kerstin) was coming to stay at chez Jez/Perechat  – so we had an extra day away from them as a pretext for collecting KK! We identified a secure parking near the Bordeaux Merignac airport – Katherine dropped me at the Arrivals Building and awaited at the parking for my call. Kerstin arrived very quickly and K/Jez appeared right on time. Kerstin had not experienced Jez and was suitably impressed – she was particularly pleased with the sleeping accommodation… having previously called Jez a folly by email!!

We drove to the coast W of Bordeaux to an aire … due to the heavy traffic, we arrived just as the sun was setting…. another of those moments in time, which you cannot plan.  As K and K walked Oscar, K tried to persuade K to let out her properties in Germany and buy a motorhome … you don’t get moment like this stuck to a desk and a computer screen.

IMG 1096


519 – Friday 28th October 2016:  Dune de Pilat

The largest sand dunes in Europe lived up to all our expectations – and more! Beautiful soft sand and convenient steps up to the top – stunning views for miles/Kilometres in every direction. Oscar even managed to run in the sand – we had a very sandy van later….  It grows and moves every year … so far streets and houses consumed and one guid book said a campsite was next in line.






Kerstin determined to ‘control’ Oscar!


All 3 sliding down the sand … K took the steps to catch the pix.


Arriving at Perechat, where the family were convening, we parked with Kerstin lying low – K brought Diane and Grahame from the house – and mega surprise – a loving reunion!  Much jollification – and some drinkies also…

520 – Saturday 29th October 2016:  Aubeterre and Supper

We hd been to Aubeterre before, briefly for coffee last July – this time a better tour and the 2 K’s visited the underground church – much impressed – see photos! A good wander in lovely warm sunshine.



Oscar not allowed into the Church but having a look anyway.




Aubeterre is a derivative of alba terra / white stone and the stone work of the old properties was indeed soft.


Noteworthy carvings … acording to the guide book.





The underground church was more impressive than we imagined.   Dug out during the Crudades by hand.  They think to house a relict.


It was also the town cemetery, so locals and Pilgrims had to walk over the graves.


The rellilquary  – carved out of one peice of stone.

The evening was the first restaurant meal for the  Grahame birthday celebration – we drove G and D and Katherine’s navigational skills were – in Kerstin’s way of speaking – “How shall I say?” – “interesting”! In other words, we got lost! But we arrived eventually to a super meal – complete with – the Birthday cake – no jokes about Grahame’s windy skills in putting out the candles…   A special treat was Danielle travelling from her University life in Birmingham to mark the occasion – one of many treats indeed!  She’d managed to have her parents book her Business, whilst they travelled with her siblings in steerage … she only managed one bottle of fizz … wasted on her!



All in our Sunday best!


I may need that wrapping paper!


An expert in recycling!


A different gift in the same paper … honest.






Enough puff?  Oh I think so!



Angelic or what?


521 – Sunday 30th October 2016: Angouleme

Day out to Angouleme provided us with a test of motorhome parking – seriously! We almost got stuck in the local Gare car park but escaped with our van intact – the first very narrow streets test… in Jez.

On street – and free – parking was found not very far away. K checked with a local who quizzed her on how the English find the French!!!!!  A good walk around the town ramparts – more spectacular views – and a coffee outside a dog friendly bar – most bars/restaurants are dog welcoming here.  The Basilica was well worth a visit – not overly adorned like some churches – a local christening was in progress. Back to Perichat for a Baker organised evening meal.


Yes – chrysanthemums 


Lots of official graffiti.  K sporting new ‘home knitted’ poncho.



Angouleme is know for its annual car race around the ramparts.  Much be a bit hairy as the roads are twisty and narrow.


It sits high over the undulating surrounding lands … nothing special, but pleasant.


The exterior at odds with the plain interior.


522 – Monday 31st October 2016:  The Big Day Itself

Monday was the exact day of Grahame’s birthday – starting at ‘breakfast o’clock’, Kerstin revealed her ‘piece de resistance’ with her usual understated aplomb!  A sort of “This is your life” version of Grahame’s life – with individual pages written by all the extended family members – from windy underpants – to odd sayings of his – to many holiday and camping adventures….. all bound and beautifully presented.  Amazing how once you start the memories keep on coming.

We took Kerstin to the Airport – she had work on Tuesday, after a diversion via Amsterdam (her not us!)… she needed to get to S Germany!!!   Back at Perichat, we readied ourselves for the second restaurant meal of the multiple celebrations – after all, you’re only XX years old once…  K driving to the restaurant – a short distance – with her navigational skills relegated to the sidelines – Diane guided Jez and us the short distance. A truly amazing meal again. K tried baked marrow bone!  Oscar started in his crate in the van.  when K went to check on him … he was sitting on the front seat looking right royal regal!  The little sod had burst through the front mesh.  He ended up in the restaurant again with us, but he was by no means the only 4 legged guest, but at least he did NOT sit on our laps!  J has effected a gaffer tape repair across the crate’s mesh, as we read dogs HAVE to be secured in Spain and it is safer too … we’ve been building to putting him in the crate for journeys.

Back at Clare & Chris’ pad … Did I mention “Baileys” – Katherine, Clare and Diane?  Somno vinoque prevailed later with lots of zzsssss…


523 – Tuesday 1st November 2016 – A Much Needed Down Day

After all the eating out etc, we all pretty much stayed around the house.  Both the Aged P’s and us were leaving the next day … the Aged P’s heading north back home and us migrating south.  I later discovered that the french is oiseaux de passages … I rather liked it.  A number of jobs were done, including trying to level out the deep ruts Jez had dug in the drive.


Zoe pruning Oscar.