I’m back …

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!

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Still got a thing about lavender!

🙂 🙂 🙂

Jour de Fête

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 …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Tracking the R. Ardeche

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

It’s all over …

Travelling up the A9 motorway on my way to Gordes on Sunday R0X1’s right hand indicator failed. I know this as the dashboard makes a very fast click to inform one something is wrong. My first thought  was “Oh good, it would’ve been worse had the left one gone”, my second was “Oh shit, it’s that new wing mirror unit. I’ll need to find a Fiat dealer.” Musing over how much this little lot was going to cost and the legality of driving without a right hand indicator kept my anxiety levels high for the remainder of the journey. Not that it spoilt a pretty drive, the motorway was just getting me where I wanted to go but there was an awful lot of French holiday traffic cluttering up the road.

Arriving at the Aire just outside Gordes (free) I parked under the shade of a large tree and was joined an hour or so later by a lovely friendly German couple. We spent quite a while putting the world to rights and sharing similar opinions of the current state of politics and politicians. They also told me that the lavender has mostly been harvested. Later, with no distractions, I was mulling over the indicator problem again and suddenly remembered I have European cover with the RAC; doh! I decided to call in the morning. It was an absolutely silent night, not too hot and not too cold and my thoughts were at peace. Like a latter day Goldilocks, I slept soundly.

The much needed decent sleep must’ve done me some good as on waking, I had the bright idea of physically checking all the right side indicator lights. Rear right bulb blown and as it is a legal requirement to carry spare bulbs on the continent I was able to change the bulb and not bother the RAC! Why, oh why do I always assume the worst? I s’pose the best thing about it is that, as on this occasion, I’m sometimes delightfully surprised.

I drove past Senanque Abbey and they hadn’t harvested the lavender but it was well past it’s best and didn’t make the photo I’d been hoping for. Continuing on I found that my German campals had been right, all other lavender fields have been harvested. However the air was heavy with it’s delicious scent, so much nicer outdoors than in.

Lavender past its pick by date.

I comforted myself over the lack of a decent lavender photo with a France Passion overnight stop at Domain la Pellegrine, Montbrison, Côtes du Rhône country. It would’ve been churlish not to have sampled (and bought) some of their wares …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Sleepless in France’nSpain

Rosemary is doing fantastically well. Her latest X-ray showed plenty of new bone growth and she is now allowed two weight bearing steps on transfers – bed to chair etc. Rehab should start after her next appointment at the beginning of August. I am redundant!

The first couple of nights back on the road did not pass peacefully. Anyone who has been to rural Spain will be aware of the Spanish love of dogs – not Daisy-type cosseted house dogs, these dogs are left outside day and night and, no matter the size of the garden they are protecting, they are usually extremely and aggressively vocal towards any sound or movement. This is the start of a chain reaction, by the time your ears have registered the first bark the nearest 10 or so dogs have joined in. Added to this you have the “campo dogs” – these are dogs that have been dumped and roam around looking for food and as dogs do, they form packs and happily join in the general commotion.The first Aire at Pensacola, somewhat overpriced, backed on to a sparsely inhabited tract,  sparsely inhabited by anything other than plenty of both dog types. With overnight temperatures in the high twenties it was a choice of broil or be deafened – the windows remained open. It was a long night.

I’ve got a bit bored with the eastern France/Spain border crossing so just before Barcelona I diverted inland for a slightly more westerly route over the (real) eastern Pyrenees. The journey did not disappoint. The border at Puigcerde was right in the middle of the town and I managed to top up with diesel at a Spanish filling station not 50 yards before the crossing, saving 20 cents per litre! The road on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees is a gentle-ish rise and then I was driving along a green plateau full of wild flowers and bore a remarkable resemblance to photos of Switzerland. The overnight stop was at Mont Louis an old, star-shaped fortress town. I have no idea of the altitude it sits at but overnight it was 15℃ colder than the previous night – about 12ish I pulled the bedspread over me. At 1am Daisy didn’t take too much persuasion to snuggle up close. At 3am I put trousers and a jumper on over my pyjamas. At 5am I dropped the spare bed down, retrieved the duvet and stomped sulkily back to bed – sulkily because I hadn’t had the common sense to get the damn thing at midnight!

Mont Louis and the Pyrenees

I started to realise that the altitude was a tad high when it took 45 minutes of steep, bendy driving, to get down out of the mountains. Loved every minute!

Now at Gordes in Provence I shall find out tomorrow if there is any lavender left unharvested.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Mañana v. Money

I’ve been a bit concerned about the cracked glass in the passenger side wing mirror. That is the glass cover for the indicator light, not the mirror itself. There is a tiny bit of glass missing and I don’t want it to fail the MOT on that – anything else R0X1 might fail on is beyond my control/knowledge. So, after much humming and hahing, I decided to bite the bullet, blow the expense, have the darned thing replaced and quit worrying. Remembering how quickly I was able to have the driver’s side replaced in France (it helps that R0X1 is “normal” over here, being left hand drive, and the replacement doesn’t have to be specially ordered) I decided it would be quicker to have it done here. Off I toddled to Caravanas Lorca, the place that sorted out a connector for my hose to attach to the waste pipe 2 years ago, a good job done and very accommodating and friendly.

Mirror replacement; Round 1.

I remembered the way and arrived at about 11am. With only one person serving and dealing with a complicated problem, or then it might not have been complicated but it certainly took a great deal of time, I waited patiently for 1/2 an hour for my turn. Señor came and looked at the offending mirror and got on the phone to order a replacement. This took quite some time as when he eventually got through there seemed to be a very long conversation for just a simple order to be placed. However, after the call finished he informed me that if I returned at 7pm the new mirror would be fitted and I gave him the money required.

Mirror replacement; Round 2.

I duly arrived at 7pm and was pleased to see the mirror had arrived first. The mechanic proceeded to remove the old mirror – except it didn’t happen as it should have. I ended up holding the old unit up whilst he fiddled around trying to detach it, to no avail. He requested (we had discovered we could communicate fairly satisfactorily in a mixture of Frenspanglais) to take R0X for five minutes to the electrician at Fiat for some help. It was 8pm when he got back so nothing further could be done that evening. The existing mirror apparently had a sensor underneath and the replacement was obviously wrong as it didn’t, and anyway the electrical connector that should have been on the existing mirror was nowhere to be found. Could I please return at 11am the next morning and we would proceed to the Fiat dealer for him to check the part against R0X1’s engine number.

Mirror replacement; Round 3.

Once again I returned at the requested time and waited happily re-reading Fuelling the Fire prior to my e-buddy author Roland Ladley publishing the new volume in his thriller series tomorrow. Señor arrived at 11.55! Off we went to the Fiat dealership and the engine number was typed into the computer and the computer’s opinion was that the part I had already purchased was the correct part, the mirror currently attached to R0X1 was definitely incorrect, explaining three separate problems; the connector issue, the sensor (whose purpose remains unknown) and my inability to adjust the existing mirror to a satisfactory position for rear-viewing since it’s attachment 18 months ago. At this point Señor explained (in Frenspanglais) that he would leave me in Fiat’s capable hands for the correct mirror to be attached to R0X1. With much help from Google translate, as the reception guy spoke as much English and French as I speak Spanish, the work sheet was duly filled out (tho’ why my passport number was needed I have no idea). It was now well gone 1pm and siesta time was almost upon us. I sat in the waiting area unsure if I would be locked in until 5pm. Mr Ladley’s words to the rescue again – until just before 2pm (phew that was close) when I was able to drive R0X and her perfectly adjusted, brand spanking, new wing mirror away.

Now my regular reader might think that all that unhurried Spanish approach has made me a tad irritable. Au contraire. I am highly delighted; successful conclusion, time well spent reading and a bill €155 euros below what I paid a few weeks ago in France. Result!

Last night’s almost full moon.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Sister Tutor would be proud.

Much of my time here has been spent practicing, amongst other tasks, the old nursing arts of bed bathing, bed panning, and bandaging  (compression needed on the haematoma). Rosemary was also Westminster Hospital trained, but we were there at different times, so we’ve been recounting horror stories and giggling like mad about our times doing ‘proper’ nurse training. And on seeing the perfect lines of my immaculate toe to knee bandaging (with no hole at the heel) we decided that Sister Tutor would be proud.

Yesterday was a Big Day. Rosemary played the Get Out of Bed Free card and with John (who, not to be outdone, is now sporting a massive haematoma on his big toe after dropping a concrete duck on it) and I assisting she literally hopped from bed to wheelchair. My impatient patient, despite my previous words of caution, announced she wanted to visit the veranda. I wouldn’t say it to her face – she can read it instead – but the resultant vasovagal attack (big drop in blood pressure as she’d been on her back for over a month) was entirely foreseeable and entirely to be expected; but only by me, my warnings had been forgotten in the excitement … She has now agreed to a slower approach and will be sitting up in bed x3 for 1/2 an hour each today, prior to a further attempt at sitting beside the bed for 5 minutes tomorrow. As she said to me this morning about the episode – it wasn’t the break that was the problem, it was the altitude!!!

R & Me
Westminster Hospital Old Girls!

There’s nothing nicer than a cheerful patient.

🙂 🙂 🙂