10th December – Silves

10 12 2011

We headed off from Vivonne after a good walk with Jack in the morning and headed along the main route toward Biarritz. The drive there would hve been too long for us so we stopped off at a small town called Marsas along the way. There was a designated place for motorhomes to park opposite the school and church so we checked that out before heading to another aire in a neighbouring village called Marcenais. This aire, parking only, was right in the middle of nowhere but it was a pleasant enough place for us to be stopped to have some lunch before heading back up the road to Marcas for the night. When we got back there there was one other motorhome parked up so all felt nice and secure for a restful nights sleep, even after watching Hostel II on DVD.

Next day we set off to Biarritz where we met up with Marion and Dave again. We decided that we would have a couple of nights here as the weather was wonderful when we arrived, bright sunshine, lovely blue skies and an outside temperature of 22.5 degrees. Jack had a lovely run on the open beaches and we had a load of fresh air before a good dinner in the evening. The next day I decided that the motorhome needed a good clean so I gave it a good going over, getting the bikes off the rack and making sure that every inch outside was washed off, how it managed to get quite so dirty I have no idea but it was a good job done. Typically, it rained heavily overnight and, as it was still raining the next day we decided to move on to our next stop of Hendaye Plage. This stop is only about 45 minutes away but it does knock that time off the journey to Palencia which we had planned for the next day. This drive is normally one of the longest and most stressful as we invariably get lost once we enter Spain from France, toll roads not signed properly, roads all with similar numbers etc, you’d think we would know our way by now!

So, on Saturday 3rd December we made our way from France into Spain, taking the usual detour along a toll road that we shouldn’t have been on and having to pay both on our exit and entrance back on to it. Nothing changes. We stopped off after about an couple of hours and had a quick bite to eat before setting off again and eventually arriving at Palencia late afternoon. As always seems to be the case when we come to this city, it all appeared closed so our initial scout around the town was just looking at closed shops and empty streets. Looking at some of the opening times on the shops showed the siesta in full operation, 8.30am to 1pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm, that’s some break! At the right time we wandered back into town and got some basic provisions and settled in for the night, discussing our route down south. Either we could drive from Palencia into Portugal and stay on a paid aire for one night or, head further south in Spain and use an aire in Caceres which we had been to before. The latter won so, the next day we headed off to the town of Caceres where we had stayed before. We remembered that it was a very nice town and recalled that last time we were there there was lots of work going on in the central area so we were interested to have another look around. Our journey took around three and three quarter hours but it was a nice steady drive along good Spanish roads. When we arrived at Caceres the aire was packed, it’s a popular place as it does have free electricity albeit with limited points available, generally there are leads everywhere and much evidence of splitters being used. We were not bothered about getting electricity so found a spot and parked up. Because we wanted to have a good look around the town we decided that we would have two nights here and spent the next day walking Jack around the town, taking some photographs and looking for somewhere that we thought we might like to eat lunch. The central square, where the work was being carried out on our last visit, was now very pretty with plenty of folk around and restaurants taking advantage of all the space to have their tables and chairs out in the beautiful sunshine. We dropped Jack back off at the motorhome and went for lunch.

Caceres

When we got back into the square we saw that it had become extremely busy so we had to wait for a table at the restaurant that we had decided to eat at, being typically British we started a queue and once a table became free we were seated. This was not before our waited had to throw someone off a table as they just marched up and sat down without queueing, he probably thought this was most strange but he did it and then proceeded to keep shouting ‘Loverly Jubberly’ to us every time he passed by, quite a character. The menu was in both Spanish and English but the English translations left a lot to the imagination, I started with an Iberian Mixed Platter which ended up being a good portion of salamis, hams and cheese, Lorna had the paella. My main was described as ‘Serloin of the cake of to Mary’ and obviously I had no idea what was going to come when I ordered it but I was very pleasantly surprised to get chunks of steak served in a quite strong cheese sauce with a peeled pepper salad and chips. Lorna had suckling pig. Our sweet was a creme brulee each and for just €12 for three courses, in that location, it was a complete bargain.

Caceres

From Caceres we moved in into Portugal and made our way to an Orbitur campsite in Evora. We had wild camped in Evora before but we needed to get some washing done as well as making sure that everything was charged up and we were full and empty with water. We booked in for two nights at a cost of just under €30. Our afternoon was spent clearing out and washing so the next day we headed into town to have another look around, maybe to see things that we missed on our last visit and then we treated ourselves to a late afternoon BBQ.

Evora

Next stop was Silves on the Algarve, a place where we will probably spend most of our time over the next few weeks and where I am writing this from now. The weather isn’t brilliant at the moment but we are here with friends and it’s not raining. We celebrated out 6th wedding anniversary yesterday and it’s Lorna’s birthday tomorrow and a big BBQ is being planned, hopefully the showers that have been forecast will hold off and we can have a good day of it.

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28th November – Vivonne

28 11 2011

We are now well on our way down through France and in reality all we have done is travel, not much sight seeing going on at all. We met up with Marion and Dave at an aire in Hondschoote which is just over the Belgian border into France and from there our first stop was the aire at Doullens which was just outside the town centre, a bit noisy as it was right by a bus terminal but also because we had some idiots knocking on our doors at 11pm and running off. We were not disturbed after this though and managed a decent nights sleep. Next stop for us was at a small village called Marboue which is ideally located just of the main N10, the main road that will take us most of the way through to the south of France before we hit Spain. Marion and Dave cooked us a lovely beef stew that night and with a few beers etc we had a good night in. Next morning we noticed a few Police about and it appeared as though one of the houses close by had been hit by a burglary, shame. One of the nice things about this aire is that it is right by a big park meaning.g that Jack managed to have a good run about for a bit.

Next stop for us all was the aire at the troglodyte village of Villaines de Rochers where, I had been told, there is free wi-fi at the Marie but, being a Sunday, it was not available as the offices were closed. Unfortunate but no real set back for us all. After an early dinner we watched a couple of films before having an early night. Next morning Marion and Dave left before us, heading south. We walked Jack and then set off to our next stop at Vivonne, a nice aire set just outside a pleasant town, again with the bonus of having plenty of open spaces around for Jack to get his exercise. We arrived quite early as our planned stop at Richelieu didn’t happen so our afternoon was spent pottering around the town and relaxing.

At our current pace it looks as thought we will be hitting Biarritz before the weekend meaning we should be in Portugal easily by early next week. The weather already seems to be a bit warmer than it has been in the north of France so things are looking very positive indeed!





17th November 2011 – Into France.

18 11 2011

Well, here we go again. Summer season worked on the site in Stratford and, after a week or so in the UK seeing friends and family, we finally got across the channel into France, much earlier than we have been before. It’s quite strange to be here in the motorhome without snow on the ground.

As soon as we got off the ferry we were straight round to the aire at Calais where we had decided to hang around for the night. Shortly after parking up we were in the butchers buying our dinner, despite stocking up in the UK before we left. We just got excited and so a hearty meal of fillet steak with veg, and of course the obligatory bottle of wine, Beaujolais Noveau as it was the day of release, we are still not sure where we are off next but Brugge is looking like a distinct possibility.

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No rush.

It’s really good to have the feeling that this vehicle will be our home for the next few months. Really looking forward to this trip, possibly more than any other, and, having bought a booster for my phone which allows me cheaper internet access whilst abroad I plan to keep the blog fairly up to date but I hope to be concentrating more on photographs than words.

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22nd March 2011 – Le Treport to Calais.

22 03 2011

Jack settled down and we all managed a decent night sleep, lovely and warm and very comfortable. As we didn’t have to leave Le Treport until 12.45pm we were in no rush to get moving so we had an easy morning walking Jack (who seemed much better) and both having nice long showers. The journey to the aire at Calais was 2 ½ hours according to the sat-nav so, at 12.30pm we pulled out of Le Treport and started on our way at a very leisurely pace.

With diesel being much cheaper in France than in the UK I planned to fill up as late as possible and, as we neared Calais we stopped off at a supermarket and put as much fuel in as possible, in this instance just over €80 worth. We couldn’t resist one final shop either so we went into the supermarket and bought more sausages, more wine (two cases, one white, one red, buy one get one free making each bottle less than €1.30!), a couple of tins of confit de canard (duck legs preserved in their own fat) and some other stuff of little significance. The wine bottle count is now up to 48 so I think that we have enough supplies in to last us a fair while when we get back to the UK and, considering that on average we have paid around €2 per bottle we will be making a considerable saving over UK prices, not to mention the difference in quality.

We arrived at Calais at about 3.30pm and despite our plans to go to the wine warehouse to get some more bottles we didn’t get that far before the sat-nav told us to get off the motorway and took us toward the aire. I decided not to fight it as I thought we probably had enough wine on board anyway. The aire was busy and we eventually found a place to park that was reasonably level (N50°57.962′ E001°50.622′).

22-03-2011 Calais2

The positioning of the place is really quite nice, it looks right over the port and out to sea and you get to see the ferries really close up as they arrive and leave, which is very regular indeed. We had an wander around and got tempted by one of the food places on the sea front, ending up buying a big bag of chips and returning to the motorhome to eat them whilst watching Deal or No Deal and drinking tea.

As the sun set we were out again, running with Jack on the beach and savouring the lovely views.

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That is it now, our last day abroad and the final day of our travels. Tomorrow we will be back in the UK and back on the site in Stratford Upon Avon ready for work the day after. It is going to be a busy season and we are both looking forward to it immensely. 7 and a bit months to go and, all things being equal, we will be back out again…….excellent!

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21st March 2011 – St. Valery-en-Caux to Le Treport.

21 03 2011

We were up early this morning as we had decided to take Jack to the vets in St. Valery-en-Caux to get his tick treatment and worming done so that we would be able to catch the ferry back to the UK on Wednesday, it has to be done between 24 and 48 hours before you sail so we walked up to the vets at around 9.30am and were lucky enough to be able to get an appointment for 11am the same morning. Whilst we waited for the appointment time to come we had a wander around the town and harbour again and then returned just in time to be seen by the friendly vet. After what happened last time Jack had this done we had already checked that the worming treatment was done by tablet and not injection as we didn’t want Jack to be put through the pain he apparently suffered last time. The vet was lovely and checked Jack over before giving him his treatment and marking his documents, they did charge just over €60 for the pleasure though which we both thought was a bit much, but it seems as though that is the going rate.

Back at the motorhome I phoned up and booked our ferry crossing for Wednesday at 10.30am French time, next job was to get closer to Calais. We had decided to go to Le Treport because we knew that we would be able to get electricity there, there is a charge, but at €8.95 for the night it’s not excessive and it would leave us within easy reach of Calais where we planned to stay the night before we sailed. The journey there was nice and easy and took us just over and hour and a half, interrupted by a stop at the Lidl in Dieppe for some supplies (a bit more wine, some pate, sausages, cognac and razors). The stop there was a bit strange as as soon as we had parked we had a guy knocking on the door asking for money so he could eat. We had no change but, feeling a bit charitable we told him to come back to us once we had done our shopping and we would sort him out. I bought him some sandwiches in the shop but he wasn’t around when we returned so we ate them on our way to our destination.

At Le Treport we parked up and plugged in and then walked Jack along the path that runs alongside the aire, the same one where he was walked when we arrived here in December, in the snow. Things were looking much more colourful now though as the grass had grown and the trees were starting to get some colour back in them. Our afternoon was a very lazy one as we watched TV and then had pasta and sausages for our dinner, the sausages from Lidl were excellent, pork and red wine, and extremely tasty, comparable to ones I have had from butchers back in the UK. I’ll definitely be stocking up on those next time we are on our way through France into Spain.

Our night was much warmer as we had the luxury of having the electric heater on, unfortunately though Jack didn’t have a good night as he got us up early morning and was sick outside the motorhome, probably a reaction to the tablets he had had, maybe the injection was a better idea after all.





20th March 2011 – St. Valery-en-Caux.

20 03 2011

Another steady day today which was mainly comprised of walking Jack, taking some photographs and having an extended lunch which took us about two and a half hours, starter of an olive pate which Lorna had made, a main of chilli with more haricot verts, a cheese course and then to finish a bit of a naughty cake which we had bought earlier in the day. With it we had a bottle of red wine that Lorna had chosen which was excellent (and the second most expensive we had bought since we arrived abroad). France seems to have a bit of a bad influence on us food and drink wise, we seem to spend more on food here, eat more lavish menus and also get tempted by more expensive wines, bang goes the budget, and we had been doing so well!

Some of the photos that I took:

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Unfortunately, something on our menu didn’t agree with Lorna and she had a bit of a rough night of it, the temperature was also low again and concerns for our battery strength meant that we didn’t put the heating on for long and again relied on extra blankets and the sharing of body heat for a decent nights sleep.





19th March 2011 – La Mailleraye-sur-Seine to St. Valery-en-Caux.

19 03 2011

St. Valery-en-Caux is somewhere we had been before, a nice aire right on the sea and close to a nice town with a large marina and this was the place that we had decided would be our next stop off on our continuing journey north and toward Calais for our eventual return to the UK. We left La Mailleraye-sur-Seine late morning and, after emptying our waste water, we hit the road for the journey which would take just under an hour and a half. As the journey wasn’t too long we decided that we would stop off on the way and take the opportunity to do some more on the internet, this blog was way out of date and I had all of the words and photos to get uploaded, plus I fancied another burger! Although I didn’t manage to get everything done on the internet I did thoroughly enjoy a chicken and bacon burger with fries, Lorna enjoyed a coffee but did have a bit of trouble getting one with milk and eventually had to go back to the motorhome to get some as the girl behind the counter refused to serve a black coffee with milk, unless she had a latte…….most strange. Again the internet connection was slow and I again managed to leave without getting up to date which was most frustrating.

We arrived at St. Valery-en-Caux relatively early in the afternoon and managed to find a spot right on the front looking over the harbour and, after a walk with Jack into town to get a token for the service point we filled up with water and settled in for a lazy afternoon.

19-03-2011 St Valery-en-Caux

We didn’t really know what we were going to have for our dinner and after a bit of a discussion on the subject I walked back into town and managed to get to the butchers and order a big slab of steak before they closed, I also got a jar of haricot verts and then walked into the main part of town, to the supermarket, and got us a nice bottle of St. Nicholas de Bourgueil which was a bit of a snip at €5.99, the most expensive bottle of wine we have bought since coming abroad (restaurants excluded). We then settled for an extremely tasty meal and a relaxing evening in, it was cold though, much colder than we had been for a good while so extra blankets were required for a comfortable nights sleep.








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