It’s been a hectic few days. The Percys were observed shooting through, old friends were visited, Mandy, Paul and Dan, lovely to see you again after so long, and new campals were made in Barry, Anne and Sue. (Don’t believe anything any health professional tells you about recommended weekly units of alcohol, we keep the number low so that there’s plenty left on the shelves for us to purchase.) We were well into the wine when we discovered the reason we were all getting on so brilliantly had nothing to do with alcohol; Barry – GP; Anne (Barry’s wife) – Nurse; Sue – Nurse; Maggie – Nurse. Finally, on Monday evening LWD and I pitched up at BBs.
Sadly BB lost Sam, springer 13 yrs, a couple of weeks ago to kidney failure and I was a bit concerned how Sally, springer 12yrs, would react to being on her own with LWD. Sally has never been Daisy’s biggest fan, Sam and Daize always hit it off but Daize is usually a bit too excitable for Sal, however they’ve been brilliant together this past couple of days. LWD, which may be bit of a misnomer for her now, she’s developing more and more apricot patches as she matures (I use that term advisedly), first came across Frogs in France in May (who said “where else”?). She was somewhat startled but fascinated by them jumping. Here at the marina she’s not sure what to do with the plethora of Frogs jumping across the path during her evening walk but at least she doesn’t seem at all interested in eating their legs!
I asked BB if he could sort out my 12v electricity. The 12v feed is up near the ceiling and requires me to use a stool to reach the socket, the inverter has to sit on top of a cupboard which also requires me to stand on a stool to plug in an extension lead which then drapes untidily (and for any elves reading this, unsafely) from back to front of the van. I envisaged BB running cable from the 12v feed up, across the ceiling and forward to the desired spot with a socket at the end. Would he do that? Oh no … he, retired electrical whizz that he is … has wired directly from the leisure battery discretely under the floor to the inverter, now neatly tucked away out of sight, and at the mere flick of a fused switch, 12v comes into play when I’m off grid. I neither plug nor unplug anything and I don’t have to use a stool, and for that I will forgive him for dragging me all the way up to a chandlery near Nantwich, which had none of what he needed but just happened to be only a mile away from Snugburys ice cream shop (my regular reader may remember BB’s devotion to Snugburys ice cream from a previous post), only to find every electrical thingie he needed in a chandlery he’d “forgotten all about” not 10 miles away – I’m not a suspicious person but …
… mine was vanilla, sloe gin and damson (1 scoop) his was amaretto (2 scoops) and four tubs for the freezer!!) Yum.
Lovely few days in Torquay, good to spend time with J&B. The dreadful traffic and poor weather was a disappointment, but this is England in August…I’ve had to put the 4tog duvet away and break out the 9tog. I draw the line at long sleeved t-shirts tho’. I will be wrapped up warm tonight with my head through the roof light hoping for a good view of the Percy’s. The sky is clear at the moment and I’m on a farm campsite so light pollution shouldn’t be too bad.
I’m in Somerset, was hoping to catch up with The Boys in Glastonbury tomorrow but they’re away early to London, hopefully we’ll catch up in September before I cross over once more. On to Wales to see more friends before heading for the Blue Buzzard and her “not my birthday captain”, BB.
Final health bulletin on my patient for anyone wondering; not only did Rosemary survive my rusty nursing skills, she has made a full recovery! She saw the consultant earlier this week and is now full weight bearing and is to walk as much as possible. She’s also allowed to swim but only if the water temp is above 31℃ – that’ll not be a problem then, it was 29-30ᴼ when I was there.
Arriving home from the hospital appointment, after what I’m sure must’ve seemed an eternity dependant on others, Rosemary celebrated her new found mobility in style – by walking up the steps that caused the damage! I’d’ve also kicked them (gently) for good measure …
I’m currently in what I regard as my home – if anywhere can be home given the number of times we moved house throughout my childhood, which habit I continued as an adult, not to mention my current peripatetic lifestyle. Devon, the place I lived in the longest, and especially Torquay has my heart and is home. It’s good to be spending time with J&B and I’ve managed to catch up with two sets of close friends.
The site here just outside Brixham, is not my usual type of site – being quite large and kiddy orientated – and is rather expensive due to the summer holidays. But it’s great as a base and B has lent me her car for the duration, bless her, and it does provide the most amazing views of the river Dart.
Leaving the car park in R0X1 I encountered a couple of problems. Having removed the weeks rubbish, the dustbin lorry had created a worse mess by removing a large branch from a tree and driving off leaving said branch blocking the width of the drive. I managed to manoeuvre the branch alongside the kerb and girl power ruled with Christine, next door neighbour, holding it back out of the way whilst I drove through the gap. I turned into the lane and drove a couple of hundred more yards only to discover White Van Man had parked directly opposite an already parked car, leaving insufficient space for R0X to pass between them. Whilst I waited for WVM to unobstruct the road I pondered whether these might be inauspicious signs given the morning’s destination. R0X1 was on her way for service, habitation check and her first MOT. I’d already had to SORN her because I didn’t realise that despite me paying by direct debit, the DVLA did not automatically renew the car tax as the MOT was overdue and had indeed already issued a fixed penalty fine. (But yet I could delay the MOT without penalty until I got back from France … how does that make sense?) Did all these ominous signs mean she was about to fail at the first hurdle?
Thankfully there were no real problems at the garage, except for the size of the bill which admittedly did include new brake pads, and ROX1 is once again legal and taxed.
Proud holder of her first MOT certificate
So we can leave on Monday for a week’s family holiday in Nth Devon and then I’m on up to BB to celebrate the golden jubilee of his silver jubilee with him.
The last night in France for a while was spent on an Aire 27kms outside Dieppe. The weather had obligingly turned cooler to prepare LWD and I for t’other side climate. The trip to t’other side was unexceptional but the welcome home was anything but! Literally neighbours threw open their windows to shout greetings and had “my girlies” K, L and E hugged me any harder I would now be as tall and thin as a Pepperami! I felt like a superstar. The Smart One played it cool for a little while (he’s interrupted a stay at his Dad’s to greet Grandma) but he soon swapped his (almost) teenage toughness for a good cuddle.
Too much excitement had me waking at 3am. By 4am sneaking into the flat to grab my computer and compose a blog I discovered K also wide awake and suffering from overexcitement. We had a mug of decaff and a bit of a natter. Travelling is great but coming home again is fantastic – and I’ve still got J&B and BB to hug!
Ste Sévère sur Indre is another delightful French village, welcoming to motorhomers with dedicated overnight free parking including water and disposal facilities and one unmetered electric point (not that I need it as my inverter is sufficient for my electrical needs).
The village’s claim to fame is that the famous French director Jaques Tati used it as the location for his 1947 film Jour de Fête. It seems to support the tourist trade here very well with a small museum about Tati and the making of the film and weekly open air showings of the film. Many of the local shops have names which evoke the film – “Jour de Fleur” for the small flower shop for example.
As far as I’m concerned the village also has a claim to infamy. The church clock bell bongs the appropriate number of bongs for each hour and then, in case you lost count, it bongs the appropriate number of bongs a second time. Kind of sweet during the day time – not so much after 10 pm when you’re trying to get to sleep …
Dragging myself away from the Domain la Pellegrine vineyards I continued north, firstly dropping down to the Nyons to Pont D’Esprit road so that I could pick up the Ardeche gorge route. Well worth the slight detour south; it’s a wider road than my previous excursions through various gorges, far less trees to mar the spectacular views, frequent stopping places with balconied view points and the Lumix got a bit of a workout!
I planned to overnight in a campsite at Vallon-pont-d’Arc, beautiful place, full of white water canoeists, but at €30 per night that idea was rapidly kicked into touch. Trouble is its now high season and all these kind of places and the pretty routes are full of French vacationers and prices have sky rocketed. I’ll reluctantly grant the French the right to holiday in their own country …
Anyway, continuing to follow the R. Ardeche I stopped instead at the free Aire in Meyras, a small village just outside Aubenas, not to be confused with either of the other two Meyras’s within 20 kms! This Meyras was hosting a pétanque convention (what is the difference between pétanque and boules? Anyone?) and every available square centimetre, including one of the car parks, was being utilised. The motorhome Aire (€0) was also not exempt but pétanque was played only in the unoccupied bays! The air was filled with oohs and ahs and ooh la las (yes the French really do say ooh la la!) and the clicking and clacking of metal balls!!
This morning I continued to follow the N102 which now continued it’s windy twisting way up into the Ardeche mountains proper. Le Puy-en-Velay had been on my route going down to Provence but I gave it a miss as it took me too far east too early and postponed the visit til the journey back.
Quel domage! I was gutted (not) to discover I’d missed all the bikes by 24 hours, and my regular reader knows how much I love bikes! The Tour de France was in Le Puy yesterday and the day before. Frankly, apart from using the McD to get on the net, Le Puy was not worth stopping in. However I have finally managed to see a lavender field in full bloom whilst driving high up on the Ardeche plateau. The colour was stunningly, intensely purple but sadly the track leading to it was totally unsuitable for R0X1 and there was nowhere to park – but I have finally seen what I wanted to.
I’m glad to have discovered this region, it’s gorgeous, and I’ll definitely be back – in low season, when most of the grockles have gone! Tomorrow I start searching for a vet (don’t tell Daisy) as it’s time to get her inspected, tableted and passport stamped ready for the ferry on Sunday.