Percys and Frogs

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.

Thank you so much BB

and

Happy Birthday

😂 😂 😂

She didn’t just survive …

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 29-30 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 …

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The offending STEPS

🙂 🙂 🙂

Red river

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.

 

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Dart ferry
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First evening

 

Last night’s sunset was spectacular.

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Red skies
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Red sails

’nuff said …

🙂 🙂 🙂

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 …

🙂 🙂 🙂

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂