Heading to Portugal

We spent 8 nights at Caceres campsite at €17pn on the ACSI but with a deal of 4 nights for price of 3 or 8 for the price of 6 so we took advantage of this for the 8 nights for 6 enjoying the warm weather and meeting some very lovely new friends Anne and David, we hope to meet up with them again later in our travels as we all seemed to just click as friends and it’s great to have some fun company and a good old chin wag, on one of our evenings together I helped Anne set up her own travel blog we were using the lousy slow campsite internet which made it a challenge but I think we managed it, so we will now follow each others travels and adventures!

 

While we were at Caceres we made sure we had stocked up with food, having done 2 trips to the Carrefour Hypermarket during the week so we should be good at least for food now for a couple of weeks, we also took a trip into the city and the old town for sightseeing duties! the Old Town is a nice part to visit with maze like cobbled & mostly deserted streets, there’s even a tuk-tuk and driver for hire to take you around if you don’t fancy walking it!  We quite enjoyed our time at this campsite it wasn’t the most scenic of places at the entrance being right across the road from an industrial estate and a big football stadium next to it, but the site has a good vibe about it and neither of the above can be seen or heard when you’re on the campsite, you can however hear the sheep with the bells hanging from collars around their necks in the field behind the site (the noise from those bells must drive the poor animals insane!) it’s also slightly different to other campsites that we’ve been to so far on this tour, as each pitch has its own wet room with your own hot water shower, wash basins and toilets in, which is a great touch…

It was also Toffi’s 6th birthday while we were here and she enjoyed eating a bit of steak from the neighbours and ourselves, she also got a couple of new frisbees for enjoying a bit of exercise with, it was also our 4th anniversary the day after with Pete making the huge effort of sharing his apples and bananas from the fruit bowl with me and telling me that our pet pot plant were my flowers for this yr… guess there’s always hope for next year! We had in all fairness enjoyed a meal in the restaurant on the campsite and also in the Old Town earlier in the week to celebrate.

Our next stop is at camping Alentejo near Evora Monte, Portugal at €12 pn with metered electric (we are allowed a certain usage i think it’s 8kw a day and then we get charged if we use more) good job its warm here and so far we’ve not really needed the electric heater, we set off early on Sunday at about 10am to reach the next campsite not really knowing how far or how long it would take us to get here, it turned out it was just over 100 miles and we arrived at midday (including the time difference of an hr) chose our pitch and got ourselves settled, the weather has been great so far 23 degrees at least, the campsite is tidy, well kept and clean, but there is a busy main road running right next to it so the road noise will have to be tolerated, we are booked in for 5 nights,  Pete did think and assured me when choosing this site that the nearest town was only half a KM away from this campsite but we soon realised that again we are out in the middle of nowhere and the nearest Town Evora is according to google maps at least 9 miles away along the busy main road that has no paths, (so that’s Pete in the dog house after reassuring me there would be places of interest and at least a shop to walk too!) lets hope I don’t get a dose of cabin fever again, although there is a Castle in a place called Evora Monte about 2.5 miles away that we shall attempt to walk to tomorrow (shown in the photo below that Pete took tonight from the campsite as the sun was going down) hopefully we can find a path away from the main road, again we have heard conflicting accounts as to whether or not we are allowed to take the dog on public transport if your dogs small enough to carry in a bag etc they are allowed on, but any bigger and you may not be allowed on grrr what a stupid rule…

 

We got chatting to an Irishman the day we turned up at Alentejo who was travelling through Europe for 6 months accompanied only by his dog Polly, he told us he left the wife at home with the kids and grandkids and this was his anniversary present, it turned out he’d been at our last campsite Caceres the same time as us also…

Tome cuidado e até logo

Donna

Buenos Dias

We stayed at Angosto campsite in Villanane for 4 nights the weather wasn’t up to us staying any longer as it rained heavily for at least 3 of those days and nights so we were a little apprehensive about being rained in and getting stuck in the mud on the grass pitch we were parked up on, although the site itself is nice the site staff are friendly and there is a busy bar and restaurant on site used by all the locals, there are heated shower rooms with plenty of piping hot water, we took a walk to the Castle of Villanane where we bumped into a couple of hunters packing up with their shotguns and hunting dogs, we took another hike when the weather permitted across the fields, there’s not much to do around the area without a car as it’s pretty remote the next nearest small village is at least 5 miles away and situated next to the production site of salt beds where the salt has been produced there for 6,500 yrs and commercially since Roman times, if visiting this site there is a new road into the campsite where you do not need to go over the small steeply humped narrow moon bridge that our sat nav advised us to go over, luckily we’d spotted this access road before trouble found us as we would have most definitely bottomed out and caused damaged to the motorhome on it…

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We then set off in search of warmer and drier climates, our next stop was a site on a mountainside called Monte Holiday park with a winding, bumpy and pretty uneven road leading into the place, just outside of the campsite was an abandoned building covered in graffiti so we both wondered what we had set ourselves up for this time, but to our surprise it wasn’t a bad site, and it was huge! it took us an hour just to walk around the perimeter of this site, the facilities were heated, clean and decent along with plenty of hot running water, we found ourselves again in a pretty remote place and miles from anywhere we managed a couple of small walks while at this site, the weather was dry but due to being up in the mountains the wind was pretty strong and had a real chill to it you could sit and watch the different weather streams rolling into the mountains from here and we had our 1st flutter of snow while here, we stayed here for 3 nights before moving on again our next stop was 250 miles away and took us through Madrid and boy is that something, driving through Madrid is like driving through spaghetti junction but with lots of foreign road signs,  I’m so glad of the sat nav,  we were looking out for supermarkets on our way but missed the couple we did see on the turn offs, we are getting desperately low on food supplies as we haven’t food shopped since we left Pete’s mum’s which must have been nearly 3 weeks ago by now…

Well it took us nearly 5 hrs to drive to Caceres which is where we are currently camped at campsite Caceres, it’s located on the outskirts of the city of Caceres the camp is beside the local football stadium (but gladly there hasn’t been any football games played since we have been here) this will be our sixth night here tonight, after our long drive we pitched up in the sunshine and broke open a bottle of Sangria and made some paella just to get into the swing of all things Spainish of course, the next day we explored the site and surroundings to get our bearings chilled out back at camp and soaked up a little more  warmth, we decided the next day to walk in search of the supermarkets after walking for miles we got to a Carrefour hypermarket I sent Pete in to get a few days food supply while Toffi and I sat outside waiting, never send a man in to do a food shop! Toffi and I sat outside in the freezing cold, shaded wind tunnel of an entrance to that supermarket for an hour and a half while Pete leisurely strolled the shopping aisles, in Pete’s defence I guess it was a big hypermarket so would have taken a little while to walk around and find stuff… but just imagine my surprise when Pete finally came out to find he’d purchased an odd flimsy looking flat toaster that he thought might have been some sort of griddle (it’s not a griddle, it’s just for toasting bread on one side at a time!) along with a new selfie stick and some indeed odd ingredient/meal choices, with the only fruit/vegetable purchase being a stick of broccoli & 4 apples but a €100 lighter in pocket!! We then had the pleasure of carrying all the shopping including that toaster thingy miles back to the motorhome… I guess we will do a proper shop  in few days time… Well after all that walking we were both starving and too tired to cook so ate in the campsite restaurant where we had a 3 course meal which included a shared mixed grill for a whopping €40 bang went the budget that day!

On the 5th day of our visit we decided to get the bikes out and go visit the old part of the city, after forcing the howling & protesting Toffi into her doggyhut we set off, its amazing how much faster you can get to places using the bikes instead of walking, what took us a good 45 minutes to walk to the supermarket before took just 15 minutes by cycle, all we can hope for is that Toffi will start enjoying the trips instead of being so stressed out by the transportation choice otherwise we have wasted £3,000 on the trailer and bikes, so far I am too scared to ride with her in her cart on the busy main dual carriageway roads so have had to plan our trips using cycle/dirt pathways as I’m scared she may try to jump out or tip the hut over into the road so Google earth has been a good option for my planning and finding of these routes…

We parked the bikes up in Caceres town centre and walked into old town.  The old town of Caceres is quite scenic and for once we actually felt like we were sightseeing and doing some tourist type things, we strolled through the cobbled maze like streets and took photos and just plain enjoyed the fine sunny weather, we then got side tracked by food yet again and ended up having a 3 course lunch with a beer at the square in the old town for €12 each before wandering off to find where we’d parked the bikes up ready for our ride back to the motorhome…

We’ve decided to spend 8 nights here then head towards Portugal where we will spend Christmas and the New year…

Enough of my ramblings for now and enjoy the pics of old town Caceres…

take care

Donna

Monte GPS N40•57’0″ W3•43’45”

Caceres N39•29’18” W6•24’45”

 

 

Watch out Espana, we are here!!

well we made it out of what seemed to be a gypsy camp called Solina unharmed but with a little more knowledge than when we arrived, we only stayed overnight and moved on the next morning, on arrival Pete was told that the shower and toilet block were shut all apart from the 1 disabled toilet but that the owners had opened a couple of chalets at the top of the camp for use, but they were for the whole campsite and there were quite a lot of long term people there (one of which used to bring a bottle of urine down regularly to the toilet to empty! proper classy campsite!) the campsite was run down, looked scruffy and dirty with chickens running freely which kept the dog entertained when they came near our pitch, we stayed overnight then we were ready for the off first thing…

We then travelled off and crossed over into Spain, we took the toll roads as we wanted an easy ride of it and we had about 150 miles to travel we ended up driving through the city of San Sebastian to get to the campsite we’d spotted in the ACSI book (a lot of campsites are closing now due to the winter season so selection is getting limited) we have other resources such as searchforsites and camperstop on top of the ACSI which show other overnight stops, campsites and aires but even the aires are closing off their supplies of water to prevent winter freeze/frost damage…

Well we managed to negotiate our way through the city and up a mountain hillside with hairpin bends to the campsite Igueldo, the campsite entrance looked promising with lovely flower beds etc but the campsite itself is not what I would have called my “cup of tea” but we weren’t to know that till we’d booked in although at reception the 1st receptionist we met had a face on her that looked like she had chewed a wasp not the warmest of receptions… maybe, just maybe she’d found herself in the wrong career, the 2nd receptionist was much nicer, the grass pitches the photos in the book had promised barely had a blade of grass between them but plenty of mud so glad it didn’t rain while we were there or the mud would have been a nightmare, the terraced site was massive with many terraces but only the top terrace was ever used as the incline to the others meant access for motorhomes and caravans was impossible hence the wear and tear of this over used and worn out terrace, the pitches were only just big enough to park us in with the trailer and so we had no real space for sitting out in besides that the pitch we were given was constantly shaded anyway, and again the showers although clean had cold to lukewarm water, but we did have a distance view of the mountains…

 

 

We took a walk heading in the other direction to the city and found a lovely quiet walk for the dog (except for the bit on the way back where Toffi and I got chased by an escaped dog) the views were amazing of the bay of Biscay and just for a change the waters looked relatively calm…

we found an abandoned building on our walk which Pete went off to explore and we only passed a jogger and a mountain biker on the whole walk we must have walked a good 10 miles that day, the next day we did think about going into San Sebastian but in Spain unless a dog is small enough to be carried on or put in a bag they are not allowed to use public transport which was a disappointment as the bus stopped right outside the campsite, but the 4-5 mile walk down and then the 4-5 mile climb back up the mountain seemed just too harsh after walking around the city for a few more possible miles so we decided to be lazy instead but I did manage some pics of the city as we drove through!!

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We stayed at the site in San Sebastian for 3 nights and bumped into the couple and their 2 children we met from the campsite Des Combes in Felletin.  We left the site early on Saturday morning and journeyed through the mountain tunnels which sometimes went on for miles, I was impressed that during some of the longer tunnels our sat nav still managed to keep signal so they must have boosters inside the tunnels, we arrived at a site 100km further into Spain as there was snow due in the Pyrenees areas on the Monday and we certainly didn’t want to get stuck there, we are now at a nice site called Angosto in Villanane the site itself is in a forest setting with a nice relaxed atmosphere and has brilliantly hot showers, we arrived and set up just before the rain set in so our timing couldn’t have been better, the site staff are lovely and friendly, we’ve taken a walk around the village and up to the Castle, as for our journey into the campsite it was a good job that we spotted a sign for the site on a nice easy road, otherwise the sat nav would have taken us through the village and over a mighty small looking humped bridge at the end of it which we would never have cleared and most definitely bottomed out on…

 

 

The weather isn’t great at present it’s cold and it’s been heavy rain showers since we got here, which isn’t a problem as we have heating etc in the motorhome, but the downside of all this rain is that we are parked on a grass pitch so we’ll wait and see if we ever manage to get off the pitch, now that could be a problem!!!

Till next time take care

Donna

campsite Igueldo, San Sabastian GPS N43•18’17” W2•2’44”

Angosto, Villanane                        GPS N42•50’8″ W3•3’42”

It’s Halloween!!!

We moved on another 100 or so miles today after spending nearly a week in Camping De La Bastide which was a little gem of a campsite and owned by a lovely British family, we were forced kicking and screaming to leave the campsite as it was closing down for the winter season but to be honest i think the owners deserve their up coming break, they were all very hard working while we were there and the campsite is immaculate although the shower block was a little breezy on the colder days/nights due to the open style roofing on the block but plenty of hot water and like I say lovely and clean, the campsite owners couldn’t have been more helpful as while we were there it just so happened we had to renew our motorhome insurance on the October 30th and they printed off our new insurance documents for us which would keep us legal while driving through different countries…

Which leads me on nicely to the fact that on the way to Camping De La Bastide there was a stop check point where the Gendarmes and Customs were stopping and weighing Motorhomes, lorries and the like, we smiled brightly at them as they waved us through they must have made a calculated decision that they would be wasting their time to stop us as we had a trailer so had obviously made sure we had our max weight laden and loaded correctly, now I had heard stories of these type of stops and the horrors of those that were found to be over their max permissible weight and had been fined, forced to unload extra weight etc but this was the first time I had seen one, boy were we grateful we had the trailer that day!!!

While at the Bastide campsite we relaxed in the sunshine of the first couple of days, did everyday things like clean and get the washing done (always a struggle to get washing dried while living in a motorhome if the weather isnt nice to hang it out so I always take advantage of the good days to get it all done), we also had a couple of picnics down by the riverside at the campsite at lunch times to keep us going and we took comfort in the electric fan heater and also the Webasto motorhome heating system on the colder days, although Pete doesn’t like me using the diesel heating too much as he doesnt like us using the diesel up for heating when we are hooked up and paying for electric, but when it gets cold he has no say all heating systems are going on, aint no way I am living in the cold!!!

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We took a couple of walks through the town nearby, some of the buildings were clearly very old and as with many French towns there were many closed down shops and run down buildings but overall a reasonably pleasant town with the River Gironde running down beside and through it, we took a riverside walk the day before we left and walked on the outskirts of the town back to the campsite, on the main Street there is a lovely bakery who sell the best and most amazing Citron Meringue Tarts, but to be honest I am a little fed up with eating so many damn baguettes!!!

On one of our walks through town we purchased ourselves a pet plant I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty so lets see how long it stays alive with us in charge!!IMG_2859

Its Halloween night we have no treats in and we’ve landed ourselves in what looks like a Gitan/Gypsy campsite for the night the campsite is called La Solanilla, I’m hoping we dont get trick or treaters tonight… the campsite is looking pretty run down due to end of season and I’ve just been told there is only cold water in the shower block and wash basins but the owners have told Pete they have opened up a couple of the guesthouse units up at the top of the campsite where hot water showers are available, the campsite is busy and has lots of chickens running around of which Toffi is taking great delight in trying to catch when they come near her pitch… if she gets one we will have to eat the evidence!!  We plan to move on tomorrow and will maybe cross borders into Spain we are finding a lot of campsites are now closing for winter season so we may struggle and have to do some wild camping after all we have solar panels, gas and heating on board just got to find places to fill with fresh water for the tank and off load grey and black waste…

Well early to bed early to rise, I am off to have food and grab some sleep then we’ll be on the road again tomorrow take care all,

Donna

GPS Coords

Camping de la Bastide, Pineuilh N44°50’39”  E0°13’29” €17.40 pn

Camping La Solanilla, Midi Pyrenees  N43°41’49”  W0°8’17” €15.40 pn

Rendezvous’ & Repatriated naughty dog!!

We stayed at a small campsite called camping de la Riviere where we spent 6 nights at €11 per night the campsite owners were away on honeymoon at the time so a friend was looking after the site for them and would come collect your fees in the evening, during our 6 nights here we met several British couples an older couple came and chatted with us when we had first pitched they came to look around the campsite they actually lived nearby and had lived there for 13 yrs but had never been to the campsite in their motorhome so they were curious as to what it was like and whether they wanted to stop over, they left and returned early the next day in their motorhome the lady generously had some books for me to read, they decided not to stay at the campsite but go to a friends site instead, in the meantime another British couple pitched up next to us called Karan and David and would you believe it we chatted and it turned out they also came from the same locality in England as us had family in the same areas etc we had a few drinks together and chatted the next evening away outside the motorhomes under the cover of the awning a lovely evening was had with great company, we also met a couple that now lived in Luxembourg Sarah and Robin, Sarah was American and Robin was English another very lovely couple.

The village near the campsite was small with little to offer as with many of the smaller villages here, although there was a bakery, church, school, sports ground and a busy bar/restaurant which we stopped at and had ourselves a quick drink outside, we walked over the river to the village there was an aire nearby but was used by the gitan (french for gypsy’s), the bridge over the river was an incredibly narrow looking single lane we had been warned about this bridge by the other couples at the campsite and told to avoid it, but I measured it roughly by foot and we found we could get over it which was lucky for us, as that was the way we needed to travel after our stay, the weather was lovely and sunny while we were here we spent those 6 days chilling out, relaxing and sitting in the sun and making friends, we made some nice meals and took a couple of small walks, we got the clothes washing done and dried in the great weather and used the free wifi.

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Well it was time for Toffi’s holiday at the Kennels so we travelled on to Phil and Lin, they made us a lovely lunch and Phil took the time to show us around, Toffi was supposed to be in kennels for 7 nights but she really didn’t have a great time separated from us and would cry during the day and also at 2am and get herself in a pickle being stressed out so we had to go back and collect her after just 2 days, when we picked Toffi back up from the kennels (Toffi ran straight past me and into Pete’s arms – now that’s loyalty for you!!!) but in those 2 days we travelled to visit with Pete’s mum and Malcom in a village called Charme where they currently live, we went out for a belated birthday meal at their favourite French restaurant which was absolutely lovely the food was amazing, I feel like I’ve eaten so much in the last couple of days we’ve been very well looked after, picking Toffi up early placed us in a bit of a situation as Pete’s mum is currently in a rented property so strictly no animals allowed inside, so while Pete is catching up I am keeping the dog company and staying in the motorhome that’s parked up just outside in the garden..

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we are also getting the chance to stock up on motorhome essentials and make repairs such as the wing mirror which has turned into some what of a debacle, turns out Pete didn’t order the cover guards for the mirrors but the actual replacement part which is fine but not what we expected and so to fix it Pete had to remove the actual mirrors which of course both broke as they were being removed, Malcom has been superb and has taken Pete out in his car in search of motorhome shops and parts dealerships and for other essentials that we needed to stock up on, Pete also got parts for the trailer to help keep the bikes from toppling and moving about when we’re towing the trailer so the boys have had their work cut out in the last few days…

We are trying to decide whether we will over winter in Spain or Portugal we are undecided but siding with Portugal as Spain gets busy with Motorhomes over the winter and the weather is similar in both Countries over winter so we shall have to make a decision soon…

While we were at Pete’s mum’s we ordered what is called “dry mat” it’s stuff that’s used on boats under the mattresses to help stop condensation building up the stuff is pretty expensive and cost us £80+postage as we’d noticed that due to us using the motorhome full time we were getting condensation building up under the mattress in the mornings, this is caused by the differing temperatures due to the bed being above a colder area of the garage and with our body temperatures and the warmth from above it was causing a condensation issue below which meant we were having to lift the mattress for a hr each morning to air it out to stop any areas getting damp or becoming fousty, anyway we came across this dry mat stuff in our search of a cure we ordered it on the Wednesday with “assured next day delivery” which cost a extra whopping £65 so a total of £145 but the delivery didn’t even get to us till noon on Tuesday so nearly a whole week for next day delivery (and yes, we did get the extra postage refunded!) Pete removed the slats and fitted this matting and we trialled it, sorry to say it hasn’t quite worked to plan like we wished so an expensive experiment as although it reduced the condensation it didn;t cure it, we’ve now put the slats back in and will trial it with the matting over the slats to see if this reduces the condensation more if not it will be back to airing the mattress daily (“dont nobody have time for any condensation problems!!”)

After spending a lovely week with Pete’s Mum and Malcom we travelled 100 miles further South and have stopped for a few days on a lovely site called Camping De La Bastide the owners are British and ever so helpful giving us 2 pitches one to put the trailer on and one for ourselves, we’ve taken advantage of the weather and got ourselves up to date with all clothes washing, cleaned out the van, reset up all the bed, set up the new replacement dash cam, typical as while doing that, the other dash cam realised it was being replaced and magically decided it wanted to work again would you believe it..!

After all of this we had a small healthy picnic by the river Dordogne consisting of a packet of crisps and a bottle of wine!!

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There seem to be quite a few Brits on this site and we were chatting with a lady this afternoon named Carol whose travelling with her husband Andrew, they have a blog called “Our time to travel” they have plans to travel to Thailand/Vietnam backpacking how exciting!!! I shall definately be following their travel blog…

Until next time folks!

take care

Donna

GPS Coords

Camping De La Riviere N45°53’21”  E0°40’36”

Camping De La Bastide N44°50’39”  E0°13’29”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magic & Mushrooms!

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We have been on Tour for a month already… a whole month on the road, its a little disconcerting to know just how much time has literally flown by… We are currently situated in an idyllic and extremely tranquil forest camp site next to a Lake, the site is called Des Combes in Felletin at €13.80 a night, its owned by an English couple who found and purchased the site back in 2008 at the time it had been shut down and was in a state of disrepair so they have spent their time rebuilding and renovating the site, we decided to stay for 8 days here due to it being so peaceful and with the bonus of lovely hot showers, although I admit I am starting to get slightly restless, most of the time we have spent here the weather has been wonderful though with just a couple of rainy days, on sunny days we have rambled through the countryside the site owner mentioned that there was a bridge somewhere nearby to cross over to the other side of the lake but we have yet to find any bridge, the first outing we walked all the way down the road and hill we drove in on and took a stroll along a river at the bottom of the road where we found electric cable markers that looked like land mines… I kept yelling at Pete “dont stand on those we’ll be blown to smithereens!” I think he missed the humour completely…

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The next ramble we found ourselves down at the bottom of reservoir wall i did indicate to Pete that I didn’t think we were supposed to be walking here due to all the Privee and no entry signs plus barriers (I even took a photo of him under the sign that I’d pointed out to him on the way in, as we rambled back out!!!)  but as usual Pete was in his own little world and ignored all my warnings even the locked and spiked gates at the top of the reservoir were not enough to pre warn Pete, Well what a trek he took us on, we walked and climbed the reservoir from the base right to the top of the otherside, I even climbed the metal staircase at the otherside while Pete and Toffi climbed the wall trying to find this elusive bridge but to no avail, so we then climbed and hiked all the way back down and over, even the dog was scared stiff and froze in fear at times, we then rambled through the woods and down to the quarry site where the was a huge concrete tube used by the quarry I told Pete this was actually a waterslide and if we could just find our way to the top it’d be such fun to slide down…

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The other days we have spent here were spent either cleaning, doing washing or just chilling out, on one of these days we took some drinks and a little food with us down by the side of the lake and had ourselves a picnic, we have taken the time to inspect the mushrooms growing nearby and those we have spotted on our walks, Cep mushrooms are growing on our pitch then there are the Liberty mushrooms we found growing in a couple of clusters also a couple of Fly Agaric’s (so some of which are definitely of the hallucinogenic variety and growing in abundance this autumn in France) others we failed to identify and then we have also had a few little creatures around as visitors…

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There’s been a max of 3 pitches taken here all week, ourselves in our motorhome and a Dutch couple in a caravan who have been here all of our visit, then a British couple with 2 small children turned up in their motorhome and spent a couple of days here too,  we chatted and found they were also touring for a year they had come over through the tunnel just the day before us.  Other than that the occasional tourers who were just stopping for the night before they carried on with their journey’s.

We’ve been wanting to get on our bikes more so that we can explore further afield but Toffi has demonstrated her total dislike and fear of the Doggyhut and tries desperately to escape it when we put her in it, so for now it is a matter of trying to persuade her of the benefits as on longer walks we have found that she starts limping on the paw that she has a missing toe on and she’s far too heavy a dog to be lifted or carried far, we shall persevere with short rides around the campsites until she gains more confidence in our bike riding abilities.

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We have observed our touring style to be pretty lazy and laid back compared to that of others (demonstrated by Toffi in this next picture enjoying her morning lay in) we tend to have stayed on camp pitches much longer than others, who mostly seem to be just passing through but in our defence most of these travellers are only on holiday for a couple of weeks whereas we have a whole yr to travel so we are so far not in any rush, we also have rendezvous’ to make as we plan to put Toffi into a friends kennels for a week on the 14th Oct (cozy cats and dogs kennels) while we visit Petes Mum and Malcom, so Toffi will be taking her own short holiday while it gives us chance to travel up to visit,  we aim to get nearer to them in the next couple of weeks.

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Pete being such a sensitive soul seems to have been bitten multiple times so far on this trip whilst I seem to have escaped from all the biting insects being the hardy soul I am, Toffi has the protection of Advantix drops that she has regularly which seem to work most of the time… although she has insisted on laying over what look like spider mite nests a couple of times and has been bitten to shreds on those occasions but she heals within a couple of days, we did bring Avon skin so soft with us as that is supposed to stop the biting but Pete keeps forgetting to put the stuff on so I am wondering whether i should put some of Toffi’s Advantix drops on Petes neck instead…

Pete ordered the parts we needed for the repairs to the wing mirror but the suppliers have sent some of the parts to our house that is now rented out despite 4 emails asking that they send the parts to friends or relatives addresses in France,  hopefully our tenants and rental agency forgive us and take pity on us, so we’ve now had to ask Pete’s relatives to chase the parts up when they’ve been delivered to the UK and collect these then from the agency and if time allows hopefully Pete’s mum may be able to bring them to France with her once she’s finished her holiday in the UK, what a kerfuffle…

Enough rambling on for one day have fun enjoy

Donna x

 

 

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