Sunday, 29 September 2013

Why does the bar always close when we arrive?

What a lovely place Saumur is.

 Fantastic campsite on an island in the middle of the Loire, only trouble was everything shut the day we arrived – bar, pool etc. Crib update – I’m now 3/1 up. We’d been at the campsite about 15 minutes, busily setting up as you do and the dog snuck off around the back of the van. She does have a habit of running round the van, she actually runs around everything she can find – even my laptop charger the other day. Anyway I shouted her and she appeared around the front of the van, bounding up like an excited puppy with that “Look what I’ve brought for tea” look on her face. She had an enormous chunk of bread in her mouth. How to make a good impression on our new neighbours, I thought. I had a quick look around to sheepishly apologise to whoever had lost their baguette but couldn’t find anyone who might have suffered.

Now if I’d have given her a chunk of dry bread she would have turned her nose up at it. However because she’d hunted it herself she then stood there with it between her front paws and ripped it to shreds and ate the lot – what a princess. It was a good job that we had bikes because we couldn’t find a supermarket. Cycled for ages and finally found one.

Later Iain went off to the tank museum on his bike, following the tourist signs, which take you up to the chateau (very steep) up, up, up past the Chateau to the Haute Quartier which Iain then painfully realised was the “High Quarter”, only to come back down the hill to the tank museum when if he’d only followed the map instead of the signs would have been a virtually flat road. I stayed at home and played with Henry – the computer.

Went to a nice bar in the town for a couple of pressions, the dog firmly ensconced in her travel buggy while we sat nearby. The dog can see out a lot better than we can see in and some poor bloke came along with his dog sniffing in the air thinking – “There’s a dog around here somewhere”. Being inquisitive the dog happily strolled up to the buggy and sniffed at the mesh screen. The smelly one went absolutely berserk. The poor dog and not to mention the bloke jumped about 4 feet in the air. Everyone who had been watching thought it hilarious. We get loads of looks and comments about our dog in a buggy. Can recommend a good vet in Saumur if anyone needs one.

Left Saumur four days later to start our journey home. Latest crib update now 5/3 down. He’s been having a run of luck. We did some sums on our fuel consumption, which ranged from 6.9 to 9.4 miles to the gallon. That made our decision, it doesn’t matter how much the paeage is we were going to take it back home. It must be more economical to drive at a constant 60 to 65 miles per hour than the stop start, stop start through the towns and villages. So after 54 euros on the payage we got through to south of Abbeyville. Then of course you can add on the value of distress on the driver and passenger and the time saved and it’s got to be worth it. One tip on the paeage – we always go to the booth with a person in it if possible. Vehicles are automatically measured and motorhomes often come up as Class 3 which is commercial. If you go to a person they will usually only charge you for Class 2 – a saving of about 30%. And that’s not all we tried it with the unmanned booths, put the ticket in and it came up as Class 3 so I pressed the button for assistance and it changed to Class 2 and I didn’t even have to say anything. Thanks for the tip whoever it was who posted that before. Apparently if you tell them you are a camping car they will down-rate the charge.

I’ve done nearly all the driving this holiday – not really sure why but at least the travelling isn’t as boring when you are driving as it is when you are a passenger. So on one of the few occasions that Iain was driving – we got stopped by a Gendarme. Just came out of the paeage and we were flagged down.

Did he want to see our High-viz jackets, no – did he want to see our breathalyser kits – no. We think he just wanted to have a nosey at Jan. Lots of questions, How much does it weigh? Do you have the correct licence to drive such a large vehicle? Do we have a problem driving a left-hand drive in the UK? How much would we sell it to him for? “Wow” he said “that’s a price of an apartment”. His parting words were “Beautiful Toy!” – Thank you we said.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

How bad is really bad weather?

Stayed at St Jean de Mont for the week – we really liked it there.  One day I was really hot and actually thinking of going for a swim and within 4 hours was freezing – the weather just changed.  Anyway loved it there but we had to move on.  Saturday we moved onto Saumur (making our way home - sort of).  Firstly we had to dump our waste, well that was fun.  A pretty big van in a small space but with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing we managed to dump and then turn around!!!! Thus saving having to reverse all the way back.  Then it was off to do some shopping and re-fuel and then about 140 miles to Saumur.  Of course life is never that easy.  I’ll pleut!!!!!! Actuallly I’ll pleut very much. I’ll pleut les chats et les chiens.   We got soaked – well Iain got soaked more!!!! I drove, he did the dumping, he did the re-fuelling, we both did the shopping.  Then he was so wet he had to get changed, 5 days later his underpants still aren’t dry – note to self – buy cheap Asda thin ones in future – also get him into sandals so that I don’t have socks to get dry. So we’d dumped, shopped and re-fuelled and it felt like some 3 hours had gone by since we left the pitch and we’d only travelled about 3 miles with about 137 left to go.  Knackered already we traversed on towards Saumur.  We decided to ignore the paeage as it was a 30 mile longer journey but that meant going through small towns in the pouring rain. It was my turn to drive.

One really lovely town by a river we came face to face with a huge tractor and a lorry following – I inched over to the right as far as I could and stopped to let them go by.  I didn’t know that I had gone up on the kerb and as I moved off there was this horrendous crunching noise.  We didn’t stop – but I would rather have liked to have known if we’d left anything behind.  I might be the scaredy-cat passenger but I have to admit that I’m the only one who’se actually crunched anything.

Well to say I’ll pleut was a gross understatement – at one point we even thought about stopping on an aire for the night – it was awful, even in our big truck we were worried about aqua-planing so it was a very slow journey, but we got there in the end.

Is a list a bit tooooo organised?

There’s one advantage of having a long holiday just before going FT and that’s the opportunity to think about what isn’t packed – what we need and also what’s on board that we don’t need.  Some frying pans and cooking dishes – we can dump them.  However the Ramoska has been a godsend – I’ve used it nearly every day and you can just shove everything in and then go back to your book.

So on the list so far:- Spare innertube for each size wheel we have; manual toothbrushes for if the electric runs flat; citronella candles – I won’t buy any because I’ve got loads at home.

Why oh why does my dog eat grass?

Not for the squeamish this one!
At home she only has access to the patio as Iain is quite precious about his lawn and the dog would ruin it.  But while we are away she wanders around our pitch as she pleases – she’s very good and knows where the boundary is and generally stays within it.  We like it when we can let her wander and not tie her up but we are responsible – we don’t leave her out on her own and only do it if it’s quiet with no distractions for her like people walking past regularly or dogs on the pitch opposite and as long as there’s no one to annoy.  And of course we always pick up her poo!!!!!  Well my point is, in the mornings she always chomps away at the grass before breakfast.  So what you may ask? Well it always makes her sick.  She chomps away and then sits down and throws up.  We don’t like it and we’ve sort of got used to it but can’t understand why she does it.  It’s only in the morning when her stomach is empty.  Does anyone out there know why dog’s eat grass?

Is this like Margate at all?

Well we drove through St Jean de Mont last year and thought it looked just like Margate – or to the northerners, Blackpool, but having stayed here it’s not –maybe it’s because we are here out of season.  There’s a fantastic fish, meat and cheese market in the centre of town that’s open 7 days a week – would have to watch the spending there but then we are OH not FT. I’m so glad that we brought the bikes.  Iain replaced the inner tube in the princess’ carriage and we were off yesterday for a long – well fairly long –bike ride.  The cycle track starts quite close to the campsite and goes through the woods, down to the beach. The seafront is long and there is a cycle track all along the promenade.  We cycled down to the next town where they allow dogs on the beach and let the princess out.  She absolutely loved it, jumping around and running in circles (that’s what she does) in the sand.  The beach is very flat here so I walked a long way out to paddle and the dog came bounding along, splashing in the sea.  It’s the first time in a week that she’s actually had a really good run. For an old girl (her passport says she’s 12) she’s quite fit, however without the carriage I don’t think she would get that far.

Back into town to get essential supplies – bread, wine and Whiskey – and then back to the campsite for lunch (the whiskey wasn’t for lunch) and to relax for the afternoon. We had originally booked in for three nights but we like it here so are now staying for the week.

Campsite or Aire?

Before doing my diary update, I’ve been calculating the mileage that Jan does.  We’ve now travelled just under 700 miles since leaving home at – wait for it – 9 miles to the gallon.  Yes that 6.8 litre V10 is a bit thirsty to say the least.  Thank goodness it runs on gas which is about half the price of diesel, so that gives us about 18 miles to the gallon in cost equivalent.  That sounds a lot but when we had the XK8 that used to do just 19 miles to the gallon so I keep trying to convince myself that it’s not that bad. You have to forget how thirsty it is, just compare it with a diesel van – we used to get about 22 with Vanessa, so you can almost justify it on that basis – the luxury and size is worth the extra cost but it will have to be budgeted for FT.


We’ve now arrived at Le Bois Joly campsite in St Jean de Mont.  As usual stopped on the way to provision for at least 3 days and bought a new inner tube for the trailer.  I picked St Jean De Mont as we had driven through last year and it was flat and like Margate – lots of things going on and a nice sea front. Basically as long as I can see water I’m happy.


We thought we’d take a campsite for a change and use their facilities.  At least you can guarantee a place to put out your chairs and tables etc.  The campsite is good and we’ve got a good pitch with bushes all round, it’s not on the main walkway so the dog just wanders around our pitch.  She’s very good if she has got a boundary and sort of knows how far she can go.  Doesn’t stop her pushing her luck now and again though.

Funnily enough as we arrived an Irishman came running up to me asking where the pilot was.  Talk about brits gathering when they haven’t had another one to talk to for a while.  This diary writing is my outlet – I love talking, so I’m sort of talking through this.  I’ve been known to be a bit of a social hand-grenade – thanks Gill Clarke – and used to always be the one sent in to break the ice so to speak, and when I’ve no-one other than Iain to talk to I can get a bit stir crazy.   Anyway this Irishman was looking for the pilot that he had met in the Ring of Kerry with exactly the same van.  Well there’s a thing – we’ve never seen another one – and it was another one because they met only a few months ago and we’ve had Jan for nearly a year now.  Having said all that we wouldn’t want to take Jan to the Ring of Kerry because the roads there are narrower than Normandy, and have a lot more pot-holes.

So overnight stop and now Iain has changed the inner tube in the wheel so today we’re off to town to explore.  There’s something like 26km of cycle track in this area which is fantastic.

Whenever you are on an aire you want the luxury of a campsite – spread out, leave your things out,  toilets, showers and when you are on a campsite you think about how much you would save on an aire.  The grass is always greener etc etc.  The campsite here is great, and as it’s an ACSI site only 16 Euros a day, showers are ok, toilets are clean, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wifi, bar, pitches are fairly big HOWEVER there is an aire next door for 8 euros a night with FREE wifi and for a small charge you can use all the facilities of the campsite that we are on.  Can’t quite work that one out.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

To cycle or to walk?

Hey we picked an aire with free wifi!!!!!! What a result, after a bit of deliberation managed to pick up 146 emails to find only 3 were of interest.  First time I’d picked up since we got away so actually happy that no customers had been after me.  Not only that but we had free showers and they were fantastic.  The water pressure nearly beat you into the ground.  Not only was I able to wash my hair with two shampoos but I could use conditioner as well – heaven. 
Back to the holiday – the aire was about 4 miles from Mont St Michel with direct access to the river cycle path, so hey bikes today – yippee!!!! I’m not made for walking miles but I do like to cycle.  The first time we’ve used the bikes for a year so that failed promise to get fit before the holiday starting to bite.  Got the bikes off our new bike rack - a tow ball one (there’re actually very good) and pumped up all six tyres.  Yes two each, of course the dog has to come too and she has a trailer with two wheels that hitches up to my bike and we tow her everywhere. 

  Onlookers find it amusing to see a dog in a trailer.  Anyway poor thing is 11 or 12 now so she’s too old to go too far walking let alone running alongside bikes.  She’s also got no concept of wheels of any sort and with her constant spinning will actually just spin into the wheels – yes we have tried it and yes she does, you’ve got to be constantly watching that she doesn’t turn into your front wheel or even worse run into you between the wheels.

She loves the trailer – well probably more resigns herself to it and it’s better than getting left behind. What makes me laugh is when we stop to let her out for a walk she won’t budge and looks at me as if I’m stupid – she gets that from Iain, he looks at me like that too.   I do make her get out and walk if we are going up hill though – I’m not pushing the bike and the trailer with 12kg of princess, who has got 4 perfectly good legs, sitting in it. The biggest problem with the trailer is that it’s like constantly peddling up hill – but then I need the exercise a lot more than Iain does.
So off we go, Iain, me and the dog in the trailer.  Everything is going great, a nice pace, a little bit of pull on the muscles that hadn’t been used for ages, when a shout of “Stop! – The trailer has got a flat tyre.” Great – about a mile away and we’ve got a trailer failure.  Decision needed now:-
  • ·         Go back
  • ·         Keep going
  • ·         Abandon bikes and walk

The latter was decided and we chained our bikes to a tree and walked on.  Well that was a long way and quite a hot day.  We did manage to get to Mont St Michel and see the Monastery and the dam that has been built to stop the silting up of the river.  It was really impressive and probably one of the last “Must See” things for us to see in France.
A long walk back to the bikes and the dog was knackered.  She saw her bed in the trailer and jumped straight in and laid down.  A slow cycle ride back to make sure that the tyre didn’t come away from the wheel and back to the aire.  Job for tomorrow – source a new inner tube – we’d got a spare one for our bikes but not the dog’s.

I made a determined effort that I was going to take more photos this holiday and that Mr Technophobe might actually be encouraged to take some as well and maybe even some of me!!!! - here's his effort.

Next day we left the Aire – you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to work out how to use the machine to allow us to leave.  He was in the driving seat and I fiddled and fiddled and as sod’s law dictates, just as someone came to help the barrier rose and we went through. At least I didn’t look a complete fool.

Oh just one thing – where were we going?  By this stage we’d been away 7 nights and we had no plans after Mont St Michel.  Perhaps we would go to Brittany – we keep threatening that. Last year we went to the Vendee and then to the Loire because the weather forecast for Brittany was bad so this year we might give it a try.  Nah!!! Too many yellow windy roads - much too small for our behemoth so we’ll go back to the Vendee.  Off we trot about 170 miles to St Jean de Monts.

Tapestry or Embroidery?

I’ve always wanted to see the tapestry but we’ve either run out of time or not been in the area before. 
The journey to Bayeux, via Omaha beach was again interesting to say the least.  But I suppose I’m getting used to it now.  I do believe though that if I’m scared driving then I’d be more scared as a passenger, so I’ll stick to the driving for a bit longer.
Omaha beach was ok, not much there but good to have been and had a look. Courselles (Juno beach) which we visited a few years ago was more informative and would be great for cycling also with a campsite and aire just off the beach.
We had lunch in the van at Omaha beach and then moved onto Bayeux where we arrived at about 1.30pm.  We always like to get to aires early to get a space as sometimes they get rather busy.  We never travel at night, though that does seem to suit some people – probably because they don’t pay for overnight parking that way.  We like to relax with a glass of wine (or two, or a litre) and sleep that off, choosing to travel in the morning.
The aire in Bayeux is simply a car park in the middle of the city.  But it is free and there’s water, dump and electricity for charging your battery.  However you do have to share it with cars!! What an inconvenience.
We trundled off to the Tapestry leaving the poor dog in the van, it was a bit warm so we made sure she had enough water and ventilation.  She wasn’t happy about that but can’t go everywhere with us. She was a bit hot and panting when we came back but obviously not too distressed as when she got out of the van she was running around in the sun. Not like last year in the Vendee when she had a paddy at about 3 am in a panic of “Get me out of here”.  We opened the van door and she shot out and laid under a bush on the cool earth, panting. It was over 30 degrees then.  Poor dog she does wear a fur coat all year round. Still she enjoyed the ice cube I gave her and all was forgiven and ok.
I loved the tapestry and am really glad that we came to visit.  Bayeux is a pretty and lively place and again very touristy – needless to say we didn’t visit the local hostelries, preferring to stay in the comfort of our (motor) home.
And to the question – is it a tapestry or an embroidery – it is most definitely an embroidery and very well done – I couldn’t believe how long it was.
Finally decided that as we were in a city I’d try to laptop and see if I could get a connection.  NO NO NO – I’m now 5 days without my emails – withdrawal symptoms coming up.  I tried loads of things but to no avail.  Ok plan two – get the tablet out – just connected when the battery ran out and no means to charge without electricity.  So to the phone – scared that it’s suddenly going to spring into life on 3g, download loads of mb of data at extortionate roaming charges I used this gingerly.  Not enough signal to pick up the free wifi that I’d identified on the laptop.  Give up she cried, my public (and the estate agent)  can wait. 
I think I may have sorted the laptop out now and found that the free wifi I was trying to connect to is not actually free – but at least I got connected so I’ll wait until we get to a campsite and get a proper logon to test again.
We’ve now been away 6 nights and have spent a total of 32 euros on overnight stays.  So we’re averaging less than 6 euros a night (just a comment for when we FT, we’re not actually that tight on holidays). I’ve just realised that 6 nights stay overs have cost less than the 4 pints of lager that we had between us). We haven’t been to a campsite yet and have stayed on aires.  Now getting down to basics, in this van we are more inclined to use the “facilities” than we were in the other one, probably something to do with not having a plastic toilet and cassette to carry your “waste” to the dump.  Whatever, this has meant that we are much more self-sufficient and don’t need the campsites.  Can’t wait to have a proper shower with loads of water to wash my hair in though. The one in the van is adequate but you do get a different perspective on the amount of water you use when it isn’t coming down a pipe all the time.
I’m up in the middle of the night writing my diary to you all and my battery is about to fail so I’ll stop now and get a bit more sleep. 

Today we’re off to Mont St Michel, about 100 miles of what I hope will be mostly motorway and I’ll continue later. 

What do you do when you don’t have TV?

Of course we can talk to each other or read.  I’ve started to read a book, I haven’t read a book for ages, a proper novel, not a computer book, not a kindle book but a proper book, printed on proper paper!!!! I’m quite enjoying it really but trying to eek it out a bit as it’s the only one I’ve brought.
We’re now perched on top of the hill at the Arramanche 360 cinema experience.  This aire is not in the 4th edition of the Aires book but was in the 3rd – however it seems to still be ok – 6 euros a night, but if you get in after 6.00pm and leave before 9.00 am you might get away with it – they are the people we say are from Hastings – people who hurry away first thing in the morning to avoid paying, and there were a few of them.
We went to the cinema which was the Normandy landings story on 9 screens at once all around you. Quite good really and suppose it was worth the 5 euros each (day’s out will be a separate budget from food and drink). The problem with going to anything historical with Mr Right is that he’s Mr Always Right again and criticises everything that he sees.  I remember going to Turkey with him and going on a guided tour and he was teaching the guide all about Turkish history and pointing out where he was wrong – funnily enough the guide seemed to be enjoying his lessons.
Back to the Arramanche 360, Mr Right said to me when we left – “pretty well done but there were a few mistakes!!!” Here we go again, humour him, “what were they dear?” I asked.  “Well Churchill’s speech about fighting them on the beaches was about Dunkirk and not Normandy, and the German soldier shown was wrong, he was from the SS Panzer division and they weren’t at Normandy.”  Why oh why does he go to these things when he seems to know more than the presentation shows anyway.  He’s the same with history programs on the TV – it drives me mad.
After the cinema we went back to get the dog and walked into town for lunch. Not very far but a very steep hill to go down. I always think when I see a hill – if we go down here then we have got to come up again.  Arramanche is a pretty, small town with few useful shops and a woman in the tourist office who totally ignored me while she chatted on the phone. So we wandered off again.
Lunch set us back 40 euros, 20 for the food and 20 for the drink (2 and a half pints of lager).  Again a retort of “We won’t be doing this much when we’re full-timing”. Good job it wasn’t raining like last year when we got caught in a restaurant in heavy rain, we got back to the camp site dry and 70 euros lighter – but at least the brandy was good. Then as the museum didn’t allow dogs, I took the navette gratuis train up the very steep hill back to the aire while Mr Right visited the museum and then did the shopping for tea (bread and cider). Guess what – when he got back he moaned about the fact that he didn’t learn anything new – quelle surprise.
The aire was great and It was fantastic standing up on the hill looking out to sea, imagining 7,000 ships coming onto view as the dawn broke.  I’m sure the first feeling would have been to turn tail and run.
Now back to what to do with no TV – no no no not that you smutty person! But the thing is you can’t get drunk or there’s nothing to do but go to bed. You can’t read with a belly full of wine or you just have to read it all again the next day. TV is mindless and easy to watch when you’ve had a glass or two but reading – forget it.
Tip – when drinking wine from a wine box, we always decant it into a jug before pouring – our jug is 1 litre.  When it’s empty you can always have a top up from the wine box but at least you know you have already consumed 1 litre. Otherwise you keep going back when your glass is empty and wonder why you have a head ache in the morning and why the wine box doesn’t weight very much any more.  The wine we bought in the supermarket  was 10.8 euros for 5 litres and was very good.
In the morning it was get off the aire by 10.00 am or pay again and then trundle off to Omaha beach and then off to Bayeux.

Crib update Mr A Right is now 3/1 up – must have been beginners luck for me.

To Paeage or not to Paeage?

Driving on the small roads of Normandy is really scary in a big truck! The odd call from my passenger of “Too much green; be a bit more of a road hog” means that I’m off the road on his side, went over a few kerbs as well.  But I’m only just inside the white line on my side. A coach nearly ran us off the road completely, I was almost stationery but he just charged through. If I break a wing mirror then we will be really stuffed. I’ve got a theory though that as we have four back wheels, two on the outside and two inside them then if I go off the road with one of the back wheels then I’ve still got three on the road so don’t lose any traction.  Perhaps that’s just women’s logic that men don’t understand. Don’t really want to put it to the test though. 
Let’s not go on the paeage we said.  Then accidentally found ourselves on the paeage because there was a 3.5 tonne restriction on the road that we wanted.  So one junction at a cost of 1.2 Euros and it wouldn’t take our Caxton card so probably £5 to process the transaction into the bargain.
Still we’ll take the scenic route. I took a wrong turn in Deauville and we ended up in a very nice middle of the town square with restaurants and shops and some very surprised diners, we obviously should not have been there.  Then a right turn took me back onto the road that we should have been on, then he said “turn left here” and we turned off the road that we should have been on.  At this point I asked very gently, what does the sat nag say?  However Mr Right is not Mr Techie and he hates the sat nag, he said it would not clear the screen to which I gently stated “I don’t care how you navigate – get the f**king map out if you have to, just get me out of here!”  At this point I stopped the van abruptly; burst into tears; got out of the van and stamped my feet like a two year old shouting “I don’t want to do this any more”, actually I didn’t, but it was close, actually I pulled over when it was safe, took a few deep breaths and re-programmed the sat nag.  Thank god for HRT.

So calm again and the sat nag ready we happily trundled on, you don’t turn our van around easily so it was to continue on until we found a suitable place to turn, a roundabout is always a good one. Finally back on the road that we should have been on to get us to the coastal road.  Now you’re talking – not very coastal and a yellow one on the map – yellow in case you are wondering means “SMALL”.  After negotiating a few small towns and seeing a sign post I exclaimed “Can’t we just follow the A13?”, so a quick change of mind and off we were seeking a wider road. So after what seemed an age, we had travelled 10 miles and we stopped for lunch in a lay-by.  We both looked at each other and said together “That was scary”, had a cuddle and all friends again. So back to the point “To Paeage or not to Paeage?” That is the question.  Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer etc etc etc, it’s not just about spending the money, sometimes it’s about how stressful and scary the journey and how narrow the alternatives are.  

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

How much is a pint of beer?

Honfleur is a lovely old port but very touristy. We stayed in an aire in a large car-park on the edge of the old port.  I’ve never been in such a large aire before, there were about 100 vans and nearly all had electricity. 

Settled down to watch TV – started the satellite dish off and beepbeep whurr whurr and bingo a picture.  Makes a change from before we had the mother board replaced (£375, after the fitter crimped the cable and water got in) it picks up the picture so much quicker.  Then disaster, after about 10 minutes the picture went off and it said we had no signal.  Not playing at all.  Then it just starts going round and round like a whirling dervish and we give up. No TV this trip then. Bloody thing, it’s now cost us over 2 grand and we still can’t watch TV. We reckon that’s at least £3 per hour that it’s cost us so far. I wouldn’t even pay that for the internet.

Well don’t let it spoil our holiday! That’s not a problem, we’ll sort it when we get home, it’s about time we stopped being dependant on TV when we are away – after all we won’t be able to get it in Spain. We’ll just have to play crib.  Tonight I went one up!!!!

In the morning, the aire cleared away and filled up again.  Honfleur is very beautiful and the aire was a fairly short walk to the port.

Lots of galleries and shops and bars so we settled down for a drink and then got the bill. Un pression (half pint) and un grande pression (one pint) just a shade under 13 euros. HOW MUCH????????????? Yes that’s right.  Those immortal words were spoken “We won’t be doing this when we’re full timing, that’s half our daily food and drink budget on one drink!”

After two nights in Honfleur it was time to move on.  First thing to do was to get gas.  Something we had not done in France before.  Another new experience to get used to – the gas fittings are different in France and we hadn’t used ours before.  So off to Arramance we go.

Does an adventure have to be scary to be an adventure?

I really don’t know why but I’m absolutely terrified when he’s driving.  We’ve been all over France and the UK In Vanessa and I didn’t think anything of it.  Quite happily reading or sleeping as we traversed along (or perhaps I think the memory has faded). Come to think of it I do remember being nervous on Dartmoor in really heavy wind and being petrified in the Ardeche gorge, “Go slower, go slower I’m scared” “I’m only doing 15 mph and I’m six feet nearer the edge than you so just shut up” – never never never again.   But Jan the Van is a different beast.  I’m absolutely terrified when in the passenger seat. Move over to the left, move over to the left I shout.  Stop telling me how to drive he shouts back. Well stop terrifying your passenger then is the retort. So generally I do most of the driving, however I don’t like to drive too far as I get tired (it’s my age). I’d used a lot of brain energy in the morning, faffing about because I couldn’t get an internet connection at home when I should have been packing (of course I was having a paddy  because I felt my left arm had been cut off not being able to connect, how was I to cope for three weeks) , about an hour into our journey he said that if I was feeling tired he would happily drive, we were on the motorway so I pulled into the next service station and changed seats.  FANTASTIC on the motorway I’m not in the path of any on-coming lorries (Jan is left-hand-drive) so I was much more relaxed.  He was taking a good path in the carriageway and I felt ok.  BRILLIANT – bogey number one conquered – be a patient passenger, it stops a lot of rows.

Off to Dover and parked at Royal Military Parade – a freebie for the night.  Weather great, a nice long walk for the smelly one along the pier and Mr Right’s brother picked us up to have dinner in Folkestone. Altogether a very pleasant evening. It was quite amusing as non-motorhomers the brother-in-law didn’t expect to see so many vans parked up and couldn’t find us.

Early ferry in the morning 1st worry coming up.  Will we be able to get on the ferry as we have our new tow bar bike rack fitted?  Then the million dollar question – who’s driving?  This subject comes up every time we move off – it’s almost like I’m obsessed with it.  My bogey number 2 is that I’ve only once driven on the other side of the road, however I think to myself that it should be easier when I’m only in the gutter and not in the path of the oncoming.  So the answer is – I’ll drive to the Ferry, you drive in France.  Ok that’s a deal.

We always take the crossing at Dover because Tesco used to pay for the tunnel and we don’t like to leave the smelly one in the van for too long on a ferry – tunnel for Vanessa but the ferry for Jan because he runs on Gas (LPG). The Ferry was good (My Ferry Link). Calm as a mill-pond – OH or FT? well the food on the ferry was expensive as expected and the booze and fags were more than in France – so watch that.

Off the ferry in Calais and heading for Honfleur, about 4 hours drive. Yes the plan worked – a contented passenger. Bogey number 1 conquered!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – until – we stopped for lunch and I offered to drive to try to conquer bogey number 2.  What I had forgotten was that we had to cross the bridge near Honfleur and that’s massive!!!!!!!  I’ve always been a good passenger when going over high bridges, and we’ve been over this one before, when he’s been nervous, however I now know why he was nervous, it’s a totally different ball-game when you are driving.  Trundling on upwards and upwards with the grunt of the low gear coming into play (Jan is automatic), reminiscent of my one and only ride on the Big One at Blackpool, up and up and up until you can only see the drop in front. Just as you get over this feeling you see that there’s an even bigger bridge ahead  – ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration for anyone who has been on the Big One, but it was a bloody high bridge.  Actually Mr Right who doesn’t like heights thought it was great being able to see the river below for a change.  A few minutes later and we arrived in Honfleur without any problems and bogey No 2 conquered!!!! A great day and a great place.

A note – we did use the peage a couple of times (26 euros including the bridge) but neither took our Caxton card.

Do we react more the more we get stung?

The week before we left – Iain was stung on the inside of his lip by a wasp.  It was in his beer glass when he took a swig – lucky he didn’t swallow it.  Well it swelled up a trouper, as usual he never complains or moans (Iain never has man flu) and just got on with it but he actually looked like something out of the planet of the apes. I told people he’d had botox that had gone wrong. Poor thing it looked very sore.  Anyway a couple of days into the holiday he got bitten on the face in a row of three, probably by a mossie in the night.  I think it was because he still had the wasp sting In his bloodstream but he reacted badly.  His whole side of his face swelled up and became very hard.  So in a week he went from looking like a monkey to a chipmunk. That took a few days to go down but there doesn’t seem to be any problems since – thank goodness for anti-histamine tablets.

On holiday or Full-Timing? (OH or FT?)

Was this to be our last holiday or a rehearsal for full-timing.  Well the rehearsal has been going on for 7 years and it’s nearly here so this should be our last proper holiday before the budget kicks in.

Whilst I plan to post regularly when we are full-timing, I haven’t posted for a while because we have actually been on holiday and I didn’t want to publish to the world that our house would be empty for 3 weeks.  Yes 3 weeks which were planned ages ago.  The only difference is that if we are to go to Spain for the winter then we would stay in France for the holiday. Also, the techie has done something to her laptop and can’t get onto the internet anyway!!! More about that later.

Since last posting, everything has happened quite quickly.  Firstly we had a prospective tenant for the house and he wanted to move in the day after we would get back from holiday – so it was a good job that we couldn’t come to an agreement on the price - £500 under the asking price is rather low to pitch, even for a rental and he wouldn’t meet us half-way, so we parted company.  Then just the next day we had another viewing and they loved the house and can’t wait to move in.  Well that was two days before the holiday!!!!!  So needless to say we haven’t signed anything up and are hoping that when we get back from holiday they will not have changed their minds and it will all happen smoothly.  Funnily enough they want the house from the time that we want to move out, so that has also fallen into place.  So all being well the target of 1st November is on, it’s just down to Mr. Right’s exit plan from work.

So there we were packing for 3 weeks, the ferry booked and some vague plan to go to Normandy and then who knows where, depending on the weather.