Everything Changes…

We have been at this campsite for 3 weeks now and wow I have just got to mention the extremely hot weather… the whole of Europe has it seems had a massive heatwave this year, the temperatures here in the last few days reaching up to 40°c converted this becomes a staggering 104°f  now those of you who reside permanently in hotter countries will probably just chuckle and shrug this off as pretty average… but for the likes of people like me acclimatised to cooler climates, this is a very unsuitable and uncomfortable temperature… did I mention us Brits are pretty much used to rain, damp and the cold, to us 18°/25°c are pretty good summer temperatures, the country becomes a pretty humid hot pot if we hit good weather summer months…. We mostly just don’t do well with extreme temperatures in fact I myself am pretty lousy with extreme temperatures either way hot or cold I suffer with super low blood pressure and extreme temps can lower that even more so I struggle, sweat or shiver with just normal minor temp changes….

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Well after struggling with the higher temperatures for several weeks now in the back of my mind I have been begging for the standard normal cooler UK weather… yes I hear you all thinking I must clearly be some sort of lunatic!!! but in the height of this heat I was actually resorting to sharing the dogs wet cooling towels with her and hugging a frozen hot water bottle!!! yep I actually got my hot water bottle out half filled it with water and I froze that bad boy!!!  You will never know quite how much I appreciated having a freezer in the motorhome at this point…. Although I did notice I was receiving some pretty strange looks from people who must have thought I was crazy to be carrying what appeared to be a hot water bottle around with me in this heat… I am thinking of looking up how to do a rain dance for extra relief…

The fire risk in Europe is very high at the moment and sitting in a crowded campsite with so many people having barbeques or burning citronella candles is also making me slightly nervous, I am surprised the site hasn’t told people not to use their barbeques right now, the family opposite us had their barbeque right up close to the separation hedge yesterday freshly lit with flames leaping from it and with someones caravan just a couple of foot away on the other side of the hedge… Amazing how people can be so complacent and lax about it right now especially after witnessing videos and pictures of the sad disaster of raging fires that took place in Greece just this week, there are fires breaking out it would seem everywhere as countries battle the intense heatwave and these fires are spreading so quickly with the dryness of the trees, shrubbery and land as a whole…  just today we heard that somewhere we had visited during our tour “Tarifa” is sadly burning badly right now as I type…

With all this talk of high temperatures within this blog post it leads me nicely onto info regarding your motorhome fridge/freezers the last few days I have seen several social media posts from people asking for advise as their motorhomes/caravans fridges/fridge freezers are struggling in this heat, now further conversations reveal these people tend to turn up their fridge thermostats to full in the hopes that this will compensate and help with the fridges performance, this in fact doesn’t help as it just makes the fridges work harder increasing the workload and forcing the fridge to work overtime… turn those thermostats down people ours is a dometic 3 way fridge freezer and currently roughly on the halfway point and our freezer is freezing my water bottles no problems… if you have a freezer make sure you fill it with frozen goods/pre frozen freezer blocks if you are only just starting the fridge up or just to help it maintain temperature and while on you want the freezer compartment to be almost full as it helps maintain the temperature a half empty compartment won’t be as efficient if you haven’t much food in it try filling it with something like a loaf of bread, a bag ice cubes or freezer blocks the rest of the way… it will help with the freezer temperature in the long run and also be much more economical…

Now at the risk of sounding like a meany or some miserable old person… let me be the first to admit I am not always the most maternal of women, it’s obviously the school holiday time… but I have noticed the clientele of campsites are much, much different during these busy times compared to the off season or year long, all weather clientele and than those we have grown used too over the last year, I have started humorously calling these people in my head “fair weather or part time campers”… The parents are clearly so much more stressed out during this time, which is of course unsurprising, but this also means so many of the stressed out people are far less friendly…  We’ve only had 2 families even say hello or have a chat in the last 3 weeks we have been here, but both of these families were may I add lovely with really pleasant children, one little girl with her little brother in tow came to ask if she could pet Toffi, with her Mother and father closely following also asking to make sure this was ok with us and in conversation telling us they had had a staffie as a family pet, of course Toffi was in her element and both children were very cute and aware of how to handle a dog correctly…

 

Toffi hasn’t really wanted walkies in this heat and to be fair it wouldn’t be right to walk a dog in this heat for the good of their own health, so apart from a the quick bathroom break walks during the day of no more than a few minutes she is walked when she wakes early before the sun fully heats the day and then in the evening when the heat from the sun is starting to ease we take a stroll and she gets to stretch her legs… the rest of the day she spends lounging in front of the fan (that in all fairness in this heat is just moving around hot air) with a cooling towel placed upon her belly in fact below is a rather fetching and sophisticated photo of her sporting and modeling said cooling towel…

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Luckily where we are at present there are small streams running alongside a tree shaded lane and the big lake has been more than handy as she’s been dipping in and out of these on her walks and gaining some relief from the heat… although she gave herself and us a scare the other day when she lost her footing at the edge of the lake and fell right in, Toffi is most definitely not a elegant water dog in fact her swimming ability is completely inept and lacking in any type of style, she definitely has absolutely no finesse while in water, at one point even her little head went under and she had the look of sheer panic in her eyes… yep we have to be constantly ready to jump right in and rescue her due to her inability to float…

Whilst on the campsite we can hear the sound of a local church whose bells ring out parts of the tune Frére Jacques a french nursery rhyme but we couldn’t work out entirely where the church was that was playing the tune, until one evening we took a walk down to the next tiny hamlet here of Bar de la Buzancy, a lovely quaint little hamlet the locals waved a hello to us as we passed by with us also disturbing some of the local dogs along our way through, taking a couple of little photos the time was 8.45pm and just as we were walking past the church there its bells rang out the very tune we had been hearing, surprisingly they were pretty loud, well loud enough to startle me as I really wasn’t expecting it to be from this church…

 

 

Brother John rhyme lyrics in French and English below:

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous?
Sonnez le matines, sonnez le matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

 

After strolling through the hamlet it was time to find our way back and head back towards the direction of the campsite, as we were walking along the pathway 3 French Gitan/Gypsy families in their vans towing their caravans drove past us they all beeped their horns and waved at us and of course we waved back at each in turn, the French Gitan are so much more accepted and seem quite friendly, its really lovely and of course I was quickly full of humour, telling Pete I had now come to the conclusion that we were obviously fully accepted into the full time gypsy travelling lifestyle and community, Pete however said they were more likely only waving and beeping due to the fact we had Toffi with us, because of the breed of dog she is… after all she always seems to get lots of attention from everyone wherever we go and it seems to make it just so obvious that we are British travellers all this just from our choice of dog breed!!!

We then wandered down the road and came across the local graveyard by this time Toffi needed some water and there’s always water available in graveyard so in we wandered, while there looked around… well I never knew that that once you buy your plot your grave can be pre fitted and be ready & waiting for you to pass away and be put into it… maybe it’s normal but it seemed pretty bizarre to me and just a little creepy!!!

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This past week or so has been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for myself, I had to make the painful decision to hand my notice into my employer of nearly 2 decades, and to be fair it took a shockingly heavy toll on me… while working there I had made such good friends, which if I am honest, some of these people had become more like family to me than work colleagues over those many years…  I had already missed being in the company of many of them terribly over the past year of my sabbatical… and now had to face the reality of never working with them or perhaps not even seeing some of them again…

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Both Pete and I had worked for the same very well known International Corporation in well paid positions for the better part of our entire working lives… together we had racked up 45 yrs of working for this very company, so although we’ve survived well for the last year with me being on an unpaid sabbatical and without these wages coming in… it’s still a very scary thing giving up your employment entirely and moving on, especially when you have never known not being employed, we have certain incomes to live on and so far we have budgeted and managed well whilst living on the road… but we have thought of other ways we could perhaps earn extra income if we needed to, perhaps we shall look into these things further if need be or we shall just carry on living the dream and travelling as we have been this year…

I’d had a message from my brother telling me my mother had taken a rather bad fall and has broken her fema bone and is now laid up in hospital… I have spoken with her and she seems to be in good spirits, well as good as can be given the situation anyway!!! The doctors will know more on Monday of how they can proceed with treatment… I am really hoping for her that the bone can somehow manage to heal itself in a splint rather than have to be operated on as this very same leg that was severely injured in a motorcycle accident she was involved in many, many years ago… back when I was still a teenager… My mum has had so many operations on this leg in the past, that many that I have lost count of the exact number… so it would be awful for her if she had to have yet another… so I am keeping my fingers crossed for Mondays news!!!

We return to the UK in just over 2 weeks from now, where we will be catching up with family and friends and then looking into buying a suitable 4×4 vehicle for towing a caravan instead if successful maybe next year our travels will be with a car and caravan instead of a motorhome…

Enough of my miserable old person ramblings for today, we’ll see what tomorrow brings!!!

Take care

Donna x