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!

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!

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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

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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.

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Breakfast … actually wearing some of it!

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Is this what I ordered?

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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 71 – 73: Artic Circle Revisitied

71 – Sunday: Narvik and WW2 Museum

We arrived at the Narvik motorhome parking just as most were leaving.  Exercised – we seem to regularly get up and drive to somewhere we can exercise off the E6 main road.  Breakfasted and visited the WW2 museum.  It covered the German attack, British and Allies counter attack, withdraw of Allies troops as needed on other fronts, 5 years of German occupation, resistance work and a harrowing section on the mass slaughter and abuse of political prisoners who were deemed lower than captured soldiers.  James was tour guide reading from the comprehensive English language booklet.  An old fashioned, but very interesting museum.  In a couple of years they will rehouse and probably make all interactive … we liked it’s quirkiness and low price!  There was a cable car to the top of the mountain, but it seemed pretty pointless as we could not even see the top due to the cloud!

Drove on through snow capped dark rock mountains and parked up with a couple of German motorhomes over looking the most amazing lake – the mists even lifted in the morning so we could see it!

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72 – Monday: Tyres and Arctic Circle

Night time sojourn – off-main road car park – with a couple of vans and a tent from Poland – which had people inside – who went fishing…..  We had discovered a slow puncture in a rear wheel which J tried to blow air into and fainted!  Back to the truth – J cannot muster 4.5 Bar or 65  psi – only after a really hot curry!  Drove to Fauske and what did K see?  A Michelin sign over a tyre fitters.  A quick U Turn and 2.5 hours later we had a the slow puncture repaired and a can of ‘stuff’ to that seals such slow punctures.  Fully inflated we set forth.

We climbed and climbed …. the mountains got rockier and the adjacent river was essentially waterfall after rapids along its length.  At the top it opened up and we are at the Arctic Circle – for the second time, but this time on the way down and heading towards warmer weather!  We stopped for a couple of pix … appropriately there was a lot os snow around.  Hard to see but we are actually in front of the Arctic Circle sign!  And, of course, this Arctic Circle centre would not be complete without a miniature Nordkapp globe!  We have spent 14 days in the Arctic Circle.  On the way down, the countryside started to open out and this river was calmer and got gradually wider.

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We stopped in Mo i Rana just to replace K’s running shoes at a massive (shop called XXL) sports shop:  a bit like IKEA … you had to follow the grey path through all the fishing, cycling, gun etc sections before reaching the tills.

We stayed in a free car park overnight just off the E6 main road – small car park – with ultimately 9 motorhomes and one motorbike !  Cosy….

 

73 -Tuesday:  Trondheim

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Up at dawn again (9:00 am!) and journeyed south to Grane village where 23 local men were shot by German troops for being members of the Resistance in 1942.  K norked – lighting up the whole of Norway in her new psychedelic running shoes – see photo below but watch with sunglasses only !  J ran – in his not so new and understated blue shoes, feeling shoe envy…   Then brekkie and SatNav set for Trondheim via a wc emptying and water loading facility – which ultimately proved as difficult to find as Alex Ferguson’s sense of humour when asked why teams visiting Old Trafford were never awarded penalties !  But, we prevailed…

The approach to Trondheim is impressive and looked to indicate a city of more than it’s 180,000 people. Then, we encountered the toll roads!  I must find someone to complain to – perhaps my successor as MD of a major UK road toll charging company!  Sally SatNav brought us to the only free motorhome overnight car park – full to the gunnels – we have parked in the adjacent pay park – all of £2.10 – and see what tomorrow brings…  It’s definitely getting warmer as we travel south – we have dispensed with the extra wooly blanket over the duvet at night – what night – oh for some stars !  I hear that UK is having a heat wave… 25 Centigrade?