The Next Installment – New Year and On.

7 01 2010

29thth December 2009 – Tilly-sur-Seulles to St. Hilaire-du-Harcouet.

Though quite noisy at the Tilly-sur-Seulles aire we both had a decent nights sleep and treated the stopover as simply that, just a place to park for the night. We got up mid-morning and made our way to the closest McDonalds to upload our blogs and photos to Flickr (see previous entry) From there we hit the motorway and made our way to our next planned stop off beside the large church at St. Hilaire-du-Harecouet. Lovely location but the bells went off every 15 minutes! (didn’t mention that in the guide)

It was raining when we got there but not at all cold. Lunch was a nice omelette and following that we took Jack for a well deserved long walk and a run…….happy Jack!

Thoughts for today:

The French seem to have embraced wind energy much more than the British, we have passed so many wind farms on our travels.

The French buy bread every day from what we have seen, not surprising as it seems to go stale quite quickly, this must mean it’s more pure i.e., no preservatives. I haver yet to have any butter/margarine on my bread in France as it’s not needed, it tastes so much better without.

Why don’t British Councils embrace the French (and German and Spanish) idea of providing aires for people in motor homes. Take Ironbridge not far from where we ‘used’ to live. There is a massive car park on one side of the river and two smaller ones on the other. If the Council were to allow overnight parking and provide a service point (water and electricity) for a small charge then this would attract more people in motor homes to visit. These people would spend money on the local shops, visit attractions and then make use of the overnight parking and move on. Maybe then, there would be a more vibrant economy and there would be less shops empty on the High Street. Kind of makes sense doesn’t it.

Why do people look at us gone out when we ‘scoop the poop’? Also, people seem particularly fascinated by Jack’s coat………funny looks all round!

The bells at the church must have stopped ringing at about 9pm as I don’t remember hearing them after this. Lorna and I were both busy tapping away at our laptops as we managed to pick up a free wi-fi signal, not entirely stable as signal strength was very low but we managed to check emails and do some other stuff before retiring for the night.

Parked outside the Church at St. Hilaire du Harcouet

30th December 2009 St Hilaire-du-Harcouet to Mont St Michel.

Both sound asleep we were jolted awake by sudden and what seemed very loud peel of the church bells………..7am! Snoozing after this was interrupted every 15 minutes so we decided to get up.

Lorna took Jack into town to get the daily supply of bread and happened upon a large market, so after a cup of tea we all went out for a look around. The market was a typical farmers market with everything on sale from live crabs, frogs legs and snails to shoes. We shied away from the more ‘adventurous’ foods and bought a load of fresh prawns, some salad and some veg. After returning to the van we had a quick clear out, filled up with water, emptied the waste and got chatting to some English ‘locals’ who lived in the area. We then set off for Mont St. Michel which was about an hour away.

Arriving at Mont St. Michel is somewhat of an awe inspiring experience. The church sits right on top of the mount and is supported by huge walls, amazing to know that it was built so long ago. The streets that surround the church are narrow and even at this time of year, packed with tourists. We had a wander around though not all the way to the summit as dogs were not allowed up that far unfortunately. So we stuck to the surrounds, resisting the temptation to go into a bar for a mid-afternoon drink.

I waited until the light dropped before going out with my camera to take some photos of this fabulous sight.

Mont St. Michel at Night

and later on in the evening we went back into the town to see what was happening. Most of the bars were shutting at around 10.30pm and it was much quieter all round, probably the best time to visit this place I reckon.

Walk to the Blue

Lorna at Mont St. Michel

New Years Eve 2009 Mont St. Michel to Pleneuf-val-Andre

After being knocked up by the wardens of the car park because I had forgotten to display my overnight parking pass we were up and about by 9.30am. We had thought that we might stop there for New Years Eve as there might be a few fireworks and things going off but we made a snap decision to get going and so left and planned where to stop whilst pulled over in a lay-by. The book of aires was scoured and we found one that looked nice in a place called Pleneuf-val-Andre which meant that we left the Normandy area and moved into Brittany.

The Harbour at Pleneuf-val-Andre

We got straight to the aire and after a quick omelette for lunch we went off walking to see what the town had to offer. We soon realised that the answer was ‘not much’, maybe two bars and a restaurant, one shop and a rather large antiques dealership. The walk along the cliffs to a massive wide open beach in the bracing wind was very welcome though and Jack had a really good run in the sand. After this we went into the main town area (about 10 minutes drive) and stocked up on wine, steak and vegetables for the evening meal, the last one of 2009.

Happy New Year to all those that are reading!

New Years Day 1st January 2010 – Pleneuf-val-Andre to Plouha.

Getting up slightly hungover after a New Years Eve in our motor home we were both very tired! The weather had turned somewhat too, nothing like yesterday it was very cold and sleet was falling. We decided we were better on the road than simply sat in the van so we identified a beach front aire that was not too far away. After we had been on the road for about half an hour in sleet and rain it suddenly became much brighter with the sun out and a sudden feeling of warmth. I can’t believe what I am about to write but we pulled up at a McDonalds planning to get our free wi-fi connection to upload our blogs but, failed. Instead I ran in and ordered two Royal Deluxe (quarter pounder with cheese) and we scoffed them in the van (told you we were tired and hungover!). We then followed the sat navs instructions and within another half hour we were at our destination, a small seaside village with a single bar and no other shops at all. This paled into insignificance when we parked just metres from the beach and had an amazing view of the small cover. We sat for a couple of hours just watching a huge hail storm roll in off the sea and then hit us with enough hail to cover the ground white. Jack had a good run and then we walked to the bar and had some food, still not able to muster the strength to cook ourselves.

Parked next to the beach at Plouha

January 2nd 2010 – Plouha,and back again.

We awoke to a frosty start to the day, the vans heating had been on for most of the night, keeping us all warm but we now had a concern that we may be running low on gas, so, we decided to fill up with LPG and come back to the fantastic location we enjoyed so much last night, maybe with a stop off at a McDonalds to get these blogs and pictures uploaded.

I set the sat nav to take us to a petrol station that sold LPG at the pump and it identified the nearest at just over 20km away. Nice steady drive there, do the internet thing and back again, sounded so simple! Never the way is it?

We arrived at the petrol station and they didn’t sell LPG, we, well, Lorna, asked where the nearest place was that did and we were told it was in a town called Guincamp, about 20km away. Not completely in the opposite direction but not really toward our planned base for the night either. I filled up with diesel and off we went. Arriving at Guincamp we realised that all we had was the towns name and not a name of the petrol station that sold LPG………..DUH! We headed toward the Town Centre and by a stroke of luck I saw a sign that was advertising the local Carrefour, with petrol station………..with LPG!, and a McDonalds. The guy that took the money for the LPG had just gone on his lunch so we did some shopping and came back. It was then that I noticed that my fuel filler cap was missing, I hadn’t replaced it after filling with diesel in the other town (Paimpol for those following on a map) so this meant we had to head back there to recover it. McDonalds once again delayed we arrived back to find the filler cap exactly where I had left it. Fed up of driving around without any particular reason we just drove straight back to Plouha only to then discover that the pipe that carries LPG from the filler cap to the tank was ruptured and leaking cold gas. It wasn’t pissing out but it was leaking enough to be able to smell it, in certain positions it got worse so I can only assume that it was worn over time with the constant opening and shutting of the storage door in which it is mounted. Strangely, the fitting instructions clearly state not to fit the filler nozzle in the door as, the constant opening and closing could cause the pipe to rupture……….hmmmmmmm

So, it’s now 5.35pm and I feel that we have just wasted the day with kilometres of worthless trips and ended up where we were yesterday, but with a faulty hose pipe to sort out. Ho hum, tomorrow is a different day!

Oh, and my phone has died too!

3rd January 2010 Plouha to Port Louis.

Up quite late today and half way through cooking breakfast the electric from the leisure battery cut out so we knew we needed to get it charged back up otherwise we would have no heating tonight, not ideal. The aire we were on had no electric hook up so we drove to the nearest two aires and neither of those had electric on either. So, we had to make a decision to carry on driving around local aires or, simply have a longer run to charge the battery from that. I think we both felt that we had been faffing around too much so we decided to head for Southern Brittany to an aire that had electric and was by the sea, if the electric didn’t work there it wasn’t such an issue as the journey of just over 1 ½ hours would charge us up anyway.

So again today it was a bit of a mish mash. We had planned another day at Plouha, it didn’t turn out that way but I think we both feel as though the day has been useful. We are sat with four other motor homes, overlooking the sea, with an electric hook up that works (2 Euros for 1 hour). We have both just showered, tea is on the go, red wine in hand, phone recharging so I can reply to messages sent over the past couple of days and we are both snug and warm……..even Jack is asleep!

Two completely different days, two completely different feelings at the end of them. Happy days!

All I need to do now is to upload all of this! Maybe a McDonalds trip tomorrow, we’ll see.

4th January 2009 Port Louis.

Stopped at Port Louis today, the temperature at night was very low and we had icicles on the van when we eventually got out of it. Much of France is still on Holiday for the New Year so we walked and walked early afternoon, had lunch and then walked to a local supermarket which was open, bought some stuff, took some photos of the lovely sunset and had tea…………very relaxing indeed.

The issue with the gas tube is still with us so we are visiting a motor home dealership in the morning to see if we can get it sorted.

The sun over the Citadel at Port Louis

5th January 2009 Port Louis and surrounds.

Up bright and early (ish) today as we needed to get t0o the motor home dealer in Queven to get our gas problem looked at. The sat nav got us in the general direction and we found the place quite easily from there. Lorna managed to explain our problem and we soon had two mechanics looking at the gas system, shaking their heads and generally sounding pretty negative about having the right fittings to fix it. It appears as though the fittings inn France are different to those used in the UK so we were guided to a place about 5km away that apparently stocked all kinds of motor home accessories. After an unsuccessful visit there I decided to phone the manufacturer in the UK and have a hose shipped over to the dealer in Queven who very kindly said they would fit it for us. This was all arranged, thanks to Rob at Gaslow in the UK and Loic at Queven Motor homes, though Loic seemed all very relaxed about it and didn’t even take our name, “Just come when we have the part and we will fit it” seemed enough.

We found another aire at a seaside resort not too far away, had lunch and then decided to return to Port Louis as we knew there was both water and electricity available, as well as being a lovely location.

We hear there is heavy snow in the UK at the moment and local forecasts were saying that we might get some here too, so we stocked up on essentials (read: wine) and will be staying put over the next few days until we get the gas sorted.

Thoughts for today:

My beard seems to like the colder weather and has had a growth spurt………Grizzly Adams eat your heart out!

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7 responses

7 01 2010
David Turner

Good to hear your news (well, not the negative bits, the others) and those are some great photos!

7 01 2010
suetortoise

Superb pics, Steve — you’re seeing some lovely places. A bit of hassle with gas and the like stops us all being QUITE so jealous of you! Happy New Year to you both – and to Jack, of course.

7 01 2010
Julian

Glad you are both well and still motoring (though I put Port Louis in google maps and it says Mauritius! blimey you’re covering some miles in that little van)

7 01 2010
Gordon Dapa

Chanced across your blog from Facebook. Interesting reading, have a good trip, you are bookmarked!

7 01 2010
Jason

Stop telling us about the beard but not uploading a picture! Get a pic of the beard beardy!!!! Glad to hear you’re both well and enjoying (most) of your adventure! You’re well away from the “Winter of discontent” at the MNA!

7 01 2010
Jen Collier(Turner)

Happy New Year to you both, from a very cold and white Shropshire. Excellent photos. Love hearing the details of your adventure.

11 01 2010
andy

lorna, i’m loving loving the picture of you at mont st micheal. think you must have gone native…and so soon. no surprise really after your years of singing in the jazz clubs of paris….

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