Saturday 7th January 2107
Having had no work since 1st October for me and 1st September for Angie we are now fully working again. We’ll sort of. We worked yesterday and now have two days off to recover. So I thought I would take advantage of my new found freedom an update the blog as we have been limited whilst on the road and even the ferry internet did not work!
So we are now at Theobalds Park Camping and Caravaning club site for a month. Lat 51.6872 Long -0.0571 The team here seem really nice and friendly and the site is ok too although being so close to London it is a workers site more than a holiday site. We sort of expected to have lots of people who wanted to see the sights of London (14 miles to parliament square) and although we are told that there are some of these too the vast number of the occupants are those that live here and work during the week in London, its all experience and I’m sure we will love it anyway.
so an update of the last 8 days is as follows which we have typed daily (when we have had something to add) and now we bundle them all together.
31st December An unusual New Years Eve
It’s funny how things change and what this new found freedom has given us. We had so many plans on how to spend this momentous day but what we actually find is it is just ourselves, the two of us and Molly of course on a gravel turning circle outside of a closed Aire despite the book saying it was open all year (the second in as many days we add ) on the outskirts of an ancient walled medieval town of Donzenac just south of Limoges. GPS n44,11308 e0,82044 We are Parked up against a no parking sign. We think what the heck we are at the end of a dead end leading to a closed camp site and closed Aire in a quiet and remote village, it is New Year’s Eve and who would worry about us for just one night.
We left our makeshift camp early this morning as we had nothing to keep us there although the temptation to explore the double walled medieval city was strong. We had distance to go and Angie has the start of a cold. Another time we will come back to visit it though I’m sure.
The weather was misty and this turned to heavy pea soup fog quickly. We trudged on to Toulouse and then Montauban and fog just kept getting thicker. The going was testing and slow about 45 miles an hour but was as fast as I felt comfortable pushing forward into the whiteness. The locals however must have possessed a six sense and just knew that there was nothing coming the other way when they overtook us at speed into the white blanket without any lights on at all, totally MAD. We were aiming to just have a short drive today after the stress of yesterday and stop at Cahors but as we topped-out at the peak of the mountain just past Caussade the fog dissipated and we were given stunning blue sky’s and the scenery that we had been missing for much of the way. The whole feel of the journey changed and it became a joy rather than a chore. Just before Cahors we pulled over and looked at another Aire possibility at Souillac and then further on we stopped for a bit to eat and then decided to go on to Donzenac which was even further as the weather and going was so good. It also means that nearly all of tomorrow will be on motorway so we will not worry about the weather.
The road here was twisty but wide and of superb quality and the views over the bends in the road and down into the valleys were amazing. The towns and villages we passed through were stunning especially Cahors, Payrac and Souillac and reminded us a bit of the Lake / Peak District but without the rain. We were told that the area around Limoges was beautiful and so far we have loved it and it’s quite warm too. We have vowed to return to explore more when we have time to do so perhaps in November next year on or way to somewhere hot.
So we sit here with a couple of bottles of red and a cheese board watching Game of thrones in a semi expectant mood for the first time in years. We have the belief that 2017 will be better than much of 2016.
Sometimes you have to take control of destiny rather than just letting life pass you by. The last few months have truly been an eye opener and we don’t regret a minute of it. So far it has been the best thing we have ever done. Next year we have a new job but one that will be a way of life and that we enjoy doing, we will meet new and interesting people, make new friends and go to many new places and countries.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
We hope it is as good for you as we hope and expect it to be for us.
1st January 2017 – Long day on the road on New Years Day
We left our free but closed Aire and joined the motorway within 1.5 kilometres. The aim was to make for just south of Poitiers and the journey went well, however it had been snowing quite heavily by the time we got there and the road to the Aire was a thin singe track both there and back plus quite steep from the main road. It was also due to snow tonight. We decided to not risk getting snowed in and pulled into the next lay-by to plan what to do.
Unlike me (and those who know me will agree with this) I decided to just plot the easiest route to Caen into Margret and wing it! We thought we would just find a Aire-de-repose ( basically a motorway Side pick Nic area set back from the road) en-route and pitch up for the night.
We decided that with the inclement weather it would be better to get onto the motorway network just north of Rennes. At least they will keep the motorways open and free from snow if it snowed here too. As we plowed onwards the surrounding countryside became more and more fairytale like initially crystalline trees sat on top of lush green grass and then gradually the grass became feathered with white until full winter scene set in but with a weird slightly pink hue to it. It was a truly magical scene and particularly when the road cut through the woods or the traditional national roads were lined with the trees either side. We were so glad that we could drive through it but also glad that we could get out the other side.
We are now in the first autoroute Aire to the north east of Rennes. Having just finished a bowl of fresh Salmon vegetable and pesto spaghetti we contemplate what tomorrow holds for us.With the homeward journey almost complete we have two days to kill and only 156k to drive. Le Mont St Michelle may be an option but it depends on Angie’s Cold and the weather.
It seems strange that on Friday we were in shorts and T shirts and yet with only 3 days driving by road we are now amongst snow and freezing weather.
2nd January 2017 Le Mont Saint Michelle
We woke early as the motorway Aire woke early.
After a remarkably quiet night with only one transit van turning up at about 1.30am that woke Molly who barked that subsequently woke Angie who then subsequently woke me telling me that there was someone outside. There was! It was a bloke trying to get some kip in his transit van before going on his way at 6am. We only had 45 mins of driving today as we decided to go to Le Mont St Michelle and found a great looking Aire just 5k away from it. GPS n48,61388 w1,5058 Having had no nightly charges since leaving Spain we decided that we would splash out the €12.50 needed for the pitch fee water internet electricity hook up and waste. When we arrived the Aire was brilliant and one that we will remember for the future. Easy roads there and back to the motorway wide entrance large pitches and only a short drive, walk or cycle away from the iconic island.
We pitched up un hooked and quickly drove to the mount and were directed to the parking area. It was so different than I had remembered from when I visited with my parents but that was about 40 years ago. Then you parked on the causeway. Now probably due to the huge amount of visitors and popularity of the place there are huge car parks with a free shuttle bus to the mount. The push me – pull you type bus turned up with a driver seat at each end so it did not need to turn around on the causeway. The sign said that you could walk to the island in 40 mins and as we had Molly (and the bus was crammed and the next not due for 20 mins) we decided to walk and let Molly let off steam.
The mount was all dressed for Christmas and it must look amazing when it gets dark. It was packed through the central streets which were heaving with Chinese taking pictures of everything including the bar, the menus at the bar, the person taking the picture of the menus at the bar, and the person taking a picture of the person taking a picture of the menus at the bar. Molly got photographed so many times and we were concerned that she might have been being photographed as the main course!!!
After climbing what seemed to be a thousand steps we decided that some refreshment was needed. We squeezed past the telephoto lenses of the Chinese and found a bar that looked suitably dog friendly. I popped in and in my best pigeon French asked if we could bring in our little dog (petite Chen). The friendly black and huge French waiter said he only allowed large dogs in then laughed and dragged us in. Seafood spaghetti for me and tuna Nicose (is that how you spell it) for Angie, and a bottle of red – Nice!
We also walked back to the car as the queues for the shuttle bus were massive and the first bus was already full and another 50 Chinese waited for the next in 20 mins and it was freezing. We decided that a walk would at least keep us warm – perhaps.
Once home, because that’s what our motorhome is – home! We tucked ourselves in and settled down for the night.
3rd January Homeward bound
The last long drive in France until November 2017 brings us to Caen. It was only a two hour drive so we left late which gave me the opportunity to do something that I had not done for ages. I went for a run. The Aire was right on a cycle way that the French love so much. It was freezing at 9am but I decided to run anyway. Molly was a mad dog in the frost bouncing and bounding about like a puppy. The 3k run to the village was stunning with a gorgeous sunrise and a winter scene everywhere I looked. As I drew nearer to Le Mont St Michelle an orange glow surrounded it and the mist lurked in the background. It was a truly enchanting scene.
Two hours after leaving the Aire we arrived at the next one in Ouistreham near the ferry port GPS n49,28716 w0,24968 De-ja-vu or what! but at least we won’t have to worry about an alarm clock in the morning.
We catch the 8.30 tomorrow and will be woken at 6.30 by the Mont st Michelle arriving to take us home.
A quick stock up on some cheep wine and our European adventure is over!