Duct Tape to the rescue!

Well we moved on from the LaRoche, St Amand Ferrand municipal campsite after 7 days which as mentioned I was less than impressed with due to the run down nature of the site (those promised hot water showers that turned out to be luke warm/cold showers were enough to drive anyone nuts and give anyone who dared use them hyperthermia!), but to be fair it turned out to be a very sociable site the wardens were friendly and we met a lovely couple Wendy and Phil who were holidaying in their caravan, but who had had a mishap when the cambelt in their 4 yr old car failed and totalled the engine less than 20km after leaving the site earlier in the day so they were then towed back to camp with their tails between their legs and in a very upset state and scared as to what would now happen, after reassurance from us that their insurance and other types of cover that we all take out would cover their recovery, travel home and after arrangements had been made the rescue truck came from UK as promised with a hire car on board ready to swap with their de-funked car much relief was felt, poor Wendy was in such a state when I first spoke to her my heart broke, but we offered help and gave some much needed moral support, so all was good in the world again.

We were then invited up for drinks as a thank you along with another couple who had also helped Phil & Pete along with the rescue truck man push the car from the car park onto the truck to be taken back to the UK. After a couple of days they were happily on their way home. While drinking us women all compared our navigation skills turns out we were all at the same level with the navigation and none of us actually know where we are headed which is very reassuring… tales were told and laughter prevailed especially when the other British couple confessed to have driven into a metal height barrier and totalled their last 3 month old motorhome…

We also met a very nice Swiss Woman who had been an Au Pair in Wimbledon for a couple of yrs when she was younger and a very nice Dutch woman too although I could not really understand a word she was saying.

Strange sightings are nothing new on some campsites so here’s a taste of what I saw while we were at the LaRoche campsite for 7 days a French couple who brought their canary with them in its cage which hung from their caravan once they set up, then not 10 minutes after seeing this a woman walked by carrying her black cat in a baby chest holster…

On the wet days we drank wine & my friend Debbie’s bootleg sloe gin which I saved for just such an occasion (Thanks Debbie!), I read books on my kindle app believe it or not I read 6 books while at this site (I read books quite fast & there were a few days of wet weather! if there are any good books you recommend to read please feel free to tell me about them…) If we have free campsite Wifi we stream Netflix to watch films on cold damp evenings its a good change from French TV… We didnt have free Wifi in the last site so used our Mifi unit and managed to use up one of the £25 a go 12gb data cards we brought with us in just 5 days as well as data from my 3 mifi contract!!! the wifi here is free but very weak in signal so we’ll see how we go…

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We had a few days with some nice dry weather while at the site so made the most of getting our growing mound of washing clean & dried, took the canal walk a couple of times which was very nice also wandered into the little town and walked through the market.

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We travelled then from this site down to a lovely small site called Camping Des Combes in Felletin, Limousin.  I must say so far it has been very scenic and very tranquil the views are amazing.

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While travelling down the D915 we had the misfortune of having a minor mirror collision with a French motorhome driver who while giving an over enthusiastic wave wandered and veered towards us managing to make the mirrors collide in all fairness the mirrors on motorhomes are massive and do stick out by about a foot so i guess this is easily done neither of us could stop as there was traffic behind us both and no stopping places, but when we got to the next stopping place we stopped to view the damage we have a broken mirror casing and the indicator lens that is on the mirror is smashed, we will source some mirror guard covers and a new indicator lens asap as the cheapest option at approx £50 and fit these to cover and temporarily repair the damage for now then replace the whole mirror which will cost approx £200+ when we get back to the UK but for now Duct tape is our hero…

Take care, catch up soon!

Donna

 

 

Mad dogs and… French men

 

Ok so we moved on from our little forest oasis – Paradis Nature in the region of Chappelle D’Angillon the site itself was easily accessible which makes life easier when travelling in bigger rigs, we’d stayed for 5 nights the weather was still pretty dismal with some outbreaks of sun in spite of this we still managed to get a load of washing done and dried in those 5 days which helped and we also managed to take a few walks one around the local Chateau and the small lake which is right next to the campsite the lake was full with water fowl such as ducks and herons.

The next day we took a walk through a lovely tree lined walk/cycle route and although we walked for miles we saw not a soul, it is a refreshing change from the UK where no matter how far you think you are from civilization you always seem to bump into someone along your way.

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We were getting very low on supplies by this time after failing to stop at a supermarket on the way to the site so we really needed to find some sort of food shop hence our little trip into the village, there were a couple of other motorhomes parked up wilding on some parking bays nearby to the village we had seen these spots on the way in but with us towing a trailer we would have had to have parked lengthways across the bays which it seems would have been acceptable as one of the other mh’s was doing just this and there was still plenty of parking left for others.

Our village trip was similar to our country walk seeing very few people once again, a whole 12 people to be exact, the village was a little run down but quaint there were very few shops and fewer of them open for business, the tabac cafe, a carpenters workshop and luckily for us a butchers were open the butchers doubled up as a kind of corner shop that sold all types of food,  topped up with our supplies we ambled back to camp where we cooked ourselves a well deserved meal of steak, potatoes, tinned haricot green beans (we had purchased these from the butchers) and my favourite to take away the taste of that foul tinned veg was peppercorn sauce that i’d also brought a few sachets of with us from the UK.

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We left the site early on the Sunday morning armed with the knowledge that French Sunday opening times for super markets are restricted and they close by 1pm and we still needed to find one though because by then we really needed proper supplies and although the butchers cornershop had seen us out of a scrape we needed to get supplies in unless we wanted to live on baked potatoes and tins of baked  beans (I’d also been thoughtful enough to bring about 10 cans of those with us too, along with the various packet sauces & bisto gravy – double bonus points to me!)

Supermarket shopping done it was time to head to our next destination a campsite called La Roche situated in the Centre-Val de Loire approx 50 miles down the road, now it has to be said we are currently picking out these sites from the ACSI book/app its description as follows… a well kept maintained green grassy site with WiFi and heated shower rooms etc all sounding rather promising.

We approached the campsite before French lunchtime was over which normally seems to be 12-2pm but here at this site is 12 till 3pm and in the pouring rain we set up (although the weather forecast promised it was only a shower let me assure you this rain shower continued for hours) blooming weather! The campsite personnel happily raised the barrier and allowed us to find ourselves a pitch at 1.45pm knowing we had booked prior to make sure of availability and booking ourselves 7 nights to get discount of 1 night for free the site is €14pn after all the description in the book sounded fab! But in the bleak wet weather it didn’t appear to be so.

Now most people don’t pre-book in France they just turn up and hope because it’s the off season there will be a pitch available and most of the time there is, plus unless you speak fluent French it can become tiresome communicating (I still insist they are loving my pigeon-Cockney accented French… enough so that they look at me in what I take as  admiration that I can make their language sound so fulfilling and romantic).

Now not one to hold back on descriptions I’m wondering if ACSI sent someone with a visual impairment issue to inspect this site it is supposed to be rated 3* but the pitch we picked in the pouring rain yesterday is more mud than grass pitch… but I guess the weather has done little to help the situation here but neither has the fact that they have cordoned off the other two big fields of pitches to the site that have lush green grass on them these have clearly not been in use at all this year but is clearly where the photos that are in the book were taken, anyway what a mess of pitching up we made this time it took us 2 attempts to put the wheels levellers under and then when we thought we may have got it right the boiler told us otherwise (those of you not familiar with motorhomes won’t know that the gas appliances such as fridges or boilers will not work unless they are levelled to a certain extent they just throw themselves into fault mode and refuse to work) so once again we had to re-level just enough to make things work, Pete then hooked up the electric, which I then went and tripped it out by taking cover from the rain in the motorhome i was soaked through and freezing cold so I thought I’d be helpful and heat the place up at the same time as making us a cuppa now in the last place it had worked but unluckily for us in the new site the electrics are a lower amperage… oups my bad.

The site seems to be a little run down and I know it’s late in the season but I’m having trouble even deciphering where the pitches are, although there are a few nice pitches that Pete has spotted… now we are already pitched up i really can’t be bothered with the agro of moving pitch again after we made such a hoolah of it yesterday and to be honest although they are better pitches with more grass than mud, the trees that are planted smack bang right in the middle of these pitches kind of put me off, this is for various reasons such as tree branches falling or hitting the motorhome or the solar panels as we move onto the pitch, not to mention the tree sap (which is a blighter to remove) and the thought of too much shade in already bleary weather, I may regret my decision of not moving if the weather perks up and then I shall start to whinge on about it being too hot…

As per the description of the site having WiFi well it’s kind of a con as you have to use the leisure/games room that to be frank looks as welcoming as the canteen room in Wandsworth prison cos that’s the only place that you will get the signal for it on the whole campsite and to add injury to insult you have to sign up to a contract where they can then sell your details to use it!!! So bit of a disappointment with that aspect too but luckily for us I purchased a mifi unit and we have our own limited internet to travel with us.  

As I am writing this the sun seems to have made an appearance at nearly 2pm on Monday yay but looking at a forecast it tells me it’s not going to last, there’s more rain due in again tomorrow but it looks promising for later in the week so fingers crossed for a bit of sun and heat to ward off the damp chill that’s been following us on our journey so far, besides all the dogs at this campsite seem to be restless alongside their fellow companions and when one barks another answers this includes our own dear doggy Toffi who seems to delight in answering the calls of the fellow camping dogs too!

Time for a quick stroll in the sun while it’s out to see our surroundings, just outside the campsite is a canal, the canal de Berry to be precise the canal is no longer in use and was built by Spanish prisoners of war in the early 1800’s, we decided to walk along this but at 162 miles long we thought we would just maybe do 1 or 2 of those miles, at the nearest lock we encountered a strange French cyclist lying facedown on the ground, I at first thought he may have been injured but it turns out he was just gathering heat from the ground he looked a little embarrassed when he saw us noticing him with concern and tried to act normal… but it was too late, I had already sussed the guy to be totally insane!!

 

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Almost forgot driving along on the D905 the other day we finally saw a motorhome the same make and model as ours, a Rollerteam Granduca 265 now in the UK ours is to my knowledge the only one of its kind registered and on the road so we never get to see another, I was way, way too excited and waved like a loony and although motorhome owners do wave at each other i was that excited my waving looked more like I had possibly just escaped the nearest nut house…

Now Pete purchased a dashcam for use on our travels but we’d never really bothered setting it up before but Pete decided he would set it up and got it working he thought it could be amusing to watch back some of the times that my navigation skills get us totally lost however the next day when we went to switch it on it wouldn’t work Grrrrr… back to the drawing board on that one then.

Also an update for those who may have been slightly concerned by my total lack of navigational skills, fear not I have reviewed my map reading skills I can now read a map to a degree anyway whoohoo (but don’t get too excited guys I can only do so when stationary… have you lot seen the size of the writing on these damn paper maps?) But not only that I took a good look at the satnav and after thinking that this thing didn’t do coordinates I have now discovered it does so that makes life a hell of a lot easier than area codes it got us here really well so if co-ords are available for locations and the sat nav can communicate with satellites flying around up there then we should be just fine…

Till next time take care and have fun

 

Donna

 

From little acorns come mighty Oak trees!

Day 13 and it seems we are settling into this living like trailer trash within a tin tent, and nope no cabin fever as yet to report… although there have been times where the other has had to breathe in to allow the other to pass in the limited space available.

So we moved on from Chateaux de Bouafles after 4 days which we found was a fantastic site with our own little private garden so to speak, we would recommend this site and at $15 a night with discount using ASCI it was a gem, we then moved onto a much smaller site Les Abrias Du Perche situated in the forest of La Ferte Vidame again at €15 a night with discount from the ACSI card where we again stayed for 4 nights, it just so happened a 2CV convention was happening at the site, some amazing old cars were there, one was brought back here by a British couple who were enthusiasts and had brought over one of their own 2CV’s with them to show (apparently they had another 4 2CV’s back at home!)

We learnt that the secret test track for Citroen was in the grounds of the Chateau La Ferte Vidame and that Citroen destroyed the prototype for the 2CV during WW2 to stop it from getting into Enemy hands.

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We took a walk around the village and the Ruin’s of the Chateau La Ferte Vidame which was built 1675 restored 100 yrs later in 1775 and then destroyed in the French revolution about 15 yrs after restoration such a shame it looked a magnificent building.

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While we were visiting the village the locals were having a Fete with small orchestra playing some wonderful French anthems, we didn’t stay long… but here’s a picture of the church built in 1659 frequented by a couple of hobo’s drinking wine at 10.30am.

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We also met another British couple at this campsite who had been travelling since March but who had had to nip back to the UK for some medical assistance and were now going to stay at this campsite for a month to recuperate, 4 days in that site however was enough for us and we were into moving on…

I left Pete to his own devices with the map and choosing the next site to move onto and the next morning we were ready to roll, while putting the address into the sat nav the sat nav decided to have a hissy fit and mess around trying to find a satellite to communicate with, so while that was trying to find itself we set off in the general direction 20 mins later the Sat nav decided to play ball and pinged back to life telling us that we had 148 miles to travel.  The sheer look of horror on my face told Pete he was probably in for a messy half hour of dirty looks and snide remarks from myself along the journey after last night reassuring me it was no more than 80km (50 miles) away…

So 4 hrs later and after getting lost at least 3 times during the journey, we arrived at our next destination Paradis Nature, which is in the region of La Chapelle-d’Angillon and it is another lovely site €15.5 a night with the ACSI card all we need now is the weather to improve.

Now you may be wondering what my title about acorns and Oak trees have to do with anything but on every French site we have stayed on so far there have been some mighty big Oak trees above us and don’t be fooled folks those small acorns may be little but the can make a mighty big bang on a tin tent roof when dropping from a big tree.

Till next time have fun and thank you for following our travels…

Au revoir

Donna

 

We made it to France

Well much to our amazement we’ve managed to survive 5 days so far!!! we travelled from Stonehenge touring park to a campsite in Folkstone called the Warren for another couple of days, a bit of a small single traffic lane heading down to the site which was a slightly worrying\stressful couple of minutes, a couple that turned up the next day told me how they were worried about getting their much smaller VW van down there so they were pretty impressed when they saw our much larger motorhome plus trailer parked up, I must admit that I failed to tell them by the time we arrived safely I was pretty stressed out and having palpitations, I also left out that I had had to get out of the motorhome at the split higher in the road before the entrance to find out if we were even going in the right direction and if we’d make it down, but to be fair Pete did make it look easy and the sea view made it all worthwhile.
Now I don’t know if this happens to everyone or if it’s just my experience but I am sure like with boats you get wobbly sea legs when you get to dry land and by this campsite I was having a similar kinds of thing I guess we’ll have to call it Moho legs that strange motion feeling even though you are on solid ground.
On the 4th we’re planned onto the 11:50am train through the Channel tunnel but many a traveller we had previously talked too had told us that if you turn up earlier and they have the capacity they will gladly shove you on the earlier trains and thats exactly what they did, we were on our way through the tunnel by 10:30am woohoo we were actually slightly relieved too as we hadn’t realised the next campsite we had booked was nearly 200miles away.
Now travelling for any amount of time can be tiring and towards the end of the journey with just a couple of breaks for the dog to relieve herself and for us to get refreshed we were starting to feel exhausted the sat nav had done us well for most of the journey and we had decided prior to the trip that we would use the toll roads to get us here a little faster, it always seems to get much more interesting though towards the end of the journeys and yep of course this journey was going to be no different.
We needed food supplies so we were trying to spot a supermarket I spotted one and we headed for it but took a wrong turn and ended up doubling back on ourselves through a quaint little French village at school chucking out time, we managed to avoid all pedestrians and I navigated us into the supermarket carpark which then to my horror looked like it had height barriers to all the exits of 2.9m turned out luckily for us it had one exit without barriers not sure what the propose of those height barriers are on only certain exits but after getting a few supplies in we were again on our way.
I’d managed to put the name of the campsite into the sat nav but the street didn’t count with house numbers so we got a little confused with the sat nav telling us to turn right we had reached our destination and that’s what we did, yep turned right and right into the narrow back lane of the street we needed with a nice sharp turn at the end I kid you not this lane looked more like a pathway so I again got out to take a walkies and see what lay ahead.
There was a lovely old French guy going into the back of his garden who I think was really impressed with my pigeon French who told me depending on the size of the vehicle we could go through but if it was a large vehicle maybe not, but still he managed to give directions as to how to get to the campsite which I kind of understood but not to worry as I headed back to the motorhome another guy was pulling into the turning behind us and his English was great he reassured us we could make it out the lane if we turned right and then left at the end and that the campsite we were looking for was just ahead down the road he was right we managed to escape we did at one point think we would have to unhitch the trailer reverse the Moho and rehitch but we were lucky again oh and just for good measure the old guy was now stood chatting with a friend both with a look of amusement on their faces as we manoeuvered round those sharp bends secretly I like to think they were more impressed with my French than they were of Pete’s driving as we waved goodbye to them.
Anyhow we arrived safely at the site not long after and I must say it’s impressive compared to the expensive £25+ a night English campsites we have a lovely large private pitch with water and electric for €13 a night we are at Chateau de Bouafles the site is massive with about 200 pitches but doesn’t feel so and is beautifully kept and so far very quiet, we met a lovely English couple who are on a 7 week tour, and have told us that the Claude Monet house and gardens are a must see while we are in the area, after travelling 580 miles in the last few days we are just chilling for the day today and have only taken a couple of small strolls one being down to the river Seine we will adventure out more tomorrow.
P.S French beer is pants!!
Catch up later peeps
Donna

And… We’re off

So yesterday it finally happened, after spending the last week catching up and saying farewells to our friends and family,  cleaning the house thoroughly ready for the tenants to move in, we packed ourselves up and moved into the motor home, we now officially live in a tin tent with a trailer.

We loaded the trailer up in the pouring rain at midday said goodbye to our neighbour Val and off we set, all of 3 miles up the road to Marshmills, Halfords after Pete declared we had forgotten towbar grease…

Towbar grease acquired I then declared it Costa coffee time before we navigated ourselves out of the high kerbed car park designed with mostly cars and smaller vans in mind, then we restarted our journey onto our first stop Stonehenge Touring Park.

Now this is where I start to wonder what the hell we have let ourselves in for, before we set off I asked Pete if he needed me to set up the sat nav “no, I remember the way it’s all good” came his reply, I didn’t question this as we had visited the site a couple of yrs ago so off we set confident we’d get there without using my dreadful navigation skills.

well I got slightly bored on the drive so took a look on google maps to see how long the journey was going to take, google assured me it would take approx 2hrs 20mins then helpfully started giving the odd direction here and there.

Well eventually nearly 3 hrs later we got near the campsite and this is where the adventure got how shall I say “interesting”, we headed off the main road towards the site entrance which I pointed out to Pete who then decided that wasn’t our campsite entrance sign and carried straight on past where we were now headed for the narrow village roads, after declaring himself “a little lost” and with google maps on my phone telling us to turn around Pete suggested we might need the sat nav now.

Pulled into a turning point and with the truck sat nav now on alongside google maps we carried on the route, the truck sat nav practically screaming “do not carry on this route” while google maps and the narrow road telling us we had no choice (no chance of turning a 10m long Moho and trailer here) luckily I had overestimated our length/height into the sat nav so although it was practically giving itself hemeriods we got through this village by skin of our teeth and with my white knuckles holding on to the door handle for dear life. We managed to circle back to the very campsite entrance we had driven past just 10 mins earlier…

Once on site we unhooked the trailer and got ourselves settled, we took a peek into the trailer and found our bikes had shifted and they now needed slight attention, then Pete also managed to repair the fridge door lock as that had decided to fail just before we set off and had to be gaffer taped to stop the fridge contents from being expelled at speed on any given corner, these jobs done meaning Pete has landed himself back into the good books after scaring me half to death with narrow roads and his casual drive through the narrow village lanes, and so the adventure continues.

Until next time folks…

Donna