Monday, 31 August 2015

Start Bay 1st to 22nd of August.

Well it may seem strange to be returning to Start Bay CC site so soon, but Zoe needs a holiday and this is where she decided she wanted to go!

This was also our first run in our nice new 63 plate Freelander 2, which we had collected three days before!

Our nice new to us 63  plate Freelander2 with our caravan.
As well as Lizzie sat in the sun!

On Saturday the 1st of August we left home at lunch time and headed on our normal cross country route to the M5 at Taunton. We left late to avoid the horrific holiday traffic on the motorway. This time we had decided to stay at Steamer Quay caravan site in Totnes overnight. We pulled on to the site at about 4.00 and found a pitch.The sum awning was soon up. This is a non electric site so the fridge and water were fired up on gas.
We went into Totnes in the evening for dinner at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel. I have to say it was very good albeit a trifle pricey!  As we do not eat out too often though we felt we could justify it!
The Royal Seven Stars Hotel, Totnes.  A place well worth visiting!
(image courtesy of Google)
In the morning we left the site at 11.00 to head to Start Bay CC site. As it was a Sunday the roads were very clear so we had a trouble free run into the site. We opted for Pitch 25, which is a grass one on the middle level.

We took our time setting up as we were going to be here for three weeks. The weather was very good and we were able to sit out in the hot sun!

Monday was hot so we had a lazy day in the sun.
We then spent the rest of the week going around the area, visiting Bee Sands, Burgh Island and South Milton  Sands.

Burgh Island

Everywhere was very busy with tourists. On one of our trips out it took us over an hour to get as far as Kingsbridge, normally a 15 minute run, as we were following a bus and a large lorry and kept meeting buses and lorries coming the other way. We also met caravanners and motorhomers who could not reverse, as well as people who thought there vehicle was 3 feet wider than it actually was!
We  also visited Modbury CC Site, as this could be a possible future destination for us!

Amy, Tony, Izzy and Freddie were all staying in Paignton, so on Sunday we drove over to see them. We then brought the two children back with us to stay the night as they wanted to stay in Nanny and Pop's caravan.  They stayed with us until Monday lunch time when they were collected by Ami and Tony. I have to say that they were as good as gold!

Freddie surveying the Caravan!

As they left Zoe and Emily turned up for a week, so we got their tent up behind the caravan!
Tuesday saw James, Jade and Jack turn up, as they had decided that they wanted a break as well.  So another tent went up the other side of the caravan! Horror of horrors I had brought the wrong tent, so we had to just put half of it up! Wardens were not over happy about us having two tents up, but as it was only for 4 nights we got away with it!
On Wednesday, Jade, James and Jack went to stay in a hotel in Brixham for one night, and Emily and Zoe went to stay with Ami and co!
Everybody returned the following night, and Jade and co slept in the caravan as it was so wet!
Salcombe was the venue for lunch on Friday, at the Fort!  Very good it was as well!

Salcombe Harbour
I know there are lot of pictures of Salcombe on here,
but it really is a magic place to visit

It was Zoe's birthday on the Saturday, so Emily and her went to Torquay for the night! We had booked them a hotel, and they were going to hit the night life.
James, Jade and Jack finally left on the Sunday morning, and Zoe and Emily returned!
We felt it was like living on a railway station with all the coming and going.
As would soon be my birthday we went to The Fort for dinner on Sunday evening, with Zoe being the chauffeur.

Even if you are 19,you are never too old to go crabbing

Zoe and Emily went home on Monday and life returned to normal.   The tents came down and we had a good clear up.
Thursday was my 65th birthday, so we went into the Meeting Room in Kingsbridge. It had changed owners but was still very good!  We were going to use the bus, but as it was rather wet we drove in!

Friday was still a tad damp. Angela and Alan Feltham came down from Teignmouth to see us!  For more years than I care to admit I worked with Angela!  She moved on from St Johns, but often used to come in to school in one of her new roles.  A considerable time was taken catching up!  We had lunch at the Church Inn, Stokenham, and it was pretty good. They left at about 4.00pm as they were flying to France early the following day  It really was so good to see them. Next time we will drive to Teignmouth to see them!

Saturday was a leisurely clear up day.  Good job we cleared up and took the awning down as the Sunday was wet.

We said farewell to our neighbours!  You get to know people round you quite well on caravan sites if they are there for more than a week!  As soon as the Dartmouth bound bus passed the site, we left and had a good run through to Totnes.  The motorway was awful, so we came off at Wellington and took a leisurely cross country drive home!

Thoroughly enjoyed the time at Start Bay, even though it was so busy for the middle week!

PS.  Sorry there are  so few photographs, but I managed to break 2 cameras!

Nights to date 121

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Southwell and Riat. July 2015

Well having got back from our French trip on at midnight on the Friday it was a case of doing the washing and cleaning and tidying the caravan ready for a departure on the next Wednesday up to Southwell to visit Stuart, Nic and Scarlet. We had a good run up the A46, arriving on the campsite which is next to the Old Silk Mill which is their English home.

Stuart and Scarlet were waiting on the site for us.  We soon pitched up with help from Scarlet!  That evening we went to a Pizza House in Newark for dinner with Nics parents.On the Thursday we went into Southwell for morning coffee and then all of us  lazed around the campsite.  Stuart had to leave at about 4.00pm for an IB meeting in Cardiff. After he had gone it was time for a BBQ in the very hot sun.

Lizzie and Scarlet enjoying the BBQ

Scarlet wanted to see the seaside, so on the Friday the four of us set off for Cleethorpes, where we had an excellent lunch in a beach side cafe, before spending several hours sat on the beach, where we had fun burying Scarlet on the sand.
Scarlet and I went for a paddle!

Scarlet is under there somewhere!

On Saturday we went into Southwell again. This really is a nice town and is well worth a visit. On Sunday the four of us went out for lunch at a delightful pub in the countryside. Scarlet spent some time playing in the adventure playground there.


Stuart got back from Cardiff at around 5.00pm

On Monday Lizzie and I went into Newark and collected Stuart Nic and Scarlet as they had returned the hire car.  We then lazed around the site in the sun.

At 5.00am on the Tuesday I collected Stuart and co, and took them to Birmingham airport as they were flying to Boston, where Nic was on a course for a week. It was very good to see the three of them, even if it was only for a short period, due to the pressures on theirs and our diaries.
Perhaps when they move on next year to a new country they might return to Europe and then we can drive out and see them!
We spent the rest of the day doing the washing and preparing a curry to take with us to RIAT.

We left at 11.00am on the Wednesday to drive south to the Royal International Air Show which is held at Fairford.

The run down to Fairford was straight forward and we got to the site at about 2.30, where we met up with Robert.  He had arrived earlier in the day and was already set up with his new expedition trailer.

The next few days were spent watching the planes arrive and then practice their displays.

Mark arrived on Thursday and then Cathy came down with Dennis, the hound on Friday.

We went in to the show on Friday.It was very hot and we had a good look round. There were an amazing number of Spitfires on display and we watched them fly in formation on several occasions. We also were able to get very close to the Vulcan, which was making its last visit, prior to being grounded at the end of the year.
The Vulcan
A gaggle of Spitfires!

Red Arrows!

We also went into the show on the Sunday to see the bits that had not previously been open.  If we go next year we will not go in on the Sunday as the Adrenalin zone does not really interest us.
We did enjoy seeing these! Perhaps the next project for me to build!
On the Monday we all cleared up in the hot sun whilst watching the planes depart.
Robert and Cathy departed for their summer holiday near Eastbourne and we headed home having had an excellent time!

Probably the last time we will see the Vulcan flying!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

France.May & June 2015

Well we left home on the Saturday night heading for Poole. We had to make several diversions round Bath and Blanford due to road closures, so the journey took longer than usual! We dropped the legs on the caravan and had supper along with a few glasses of wine and turned in.

At 6.00am we were woken up by the Brittany ferry men and directed to be in Lane 11 in half an hour. So quick mug of tea, legs up and we moved forward to the ticket office.  Tickets stamped and we were quickly through to passport control and security. For the first time ever we were not checked at the security barrier, just waved straight through.  At 07.30 we were on to the ferry, so it was up onto deck for a good breakfast.  We enjoyed a very smooth crossing of the Oggin and arrived in France at 13.45 French time. Straight out on to the French roads and down to Villeieu-Les-Poeles.  This is a site we often use as our first and last stop in France, as it is about 90 miles south of Cherbourg. It is also in the centre of Town so it is good for shopping.
We arrived, put our sun awning up and enjoyed our first drink in France.

By 10.00 the following morning we were on our way south, heading for a site at Angers. We had a really pleasant run across the wonderful French countryside. French roads really are a joy to drive as they are so empty. The site we had selected from the ACSI guide was Du Lac de Maine. We arrived on site at about 2.30 and within 15 minutes were set up in the glorious sunshine. The site was large and very spacious. It is on the banks of the River Loire, and would make a good base for more than one night if you wanted to tour the area. However as we were heading for real sun and heat it was only a one night stop.

We left at 10.00am the following morning and headed down through Poitiers and Limoges aiming for Camping De Montreal at St Germain Les Belles.  This really is the king of sites. It has individual pitches set on the edge of a lake. We always phone ahead to make sure Hans keeps us a lake side pitch. Hans, the owner is Dutch, but like so many continentals is fluent in many languages. We had dinner in the restaurant, and it was excellent. The following day was a non driving one so we sat in the sun and I cycled round the lake.

Early morning over the Lake at Capmping De montreal

Looking across the lake to the campsite. Camping de Montreal
Again we were on the road at 10.00am on Thursday morning, having a straight run down A20 towards Toulouse and camping Le Rope.  As we went down the A20 it became a Peage (Toll  Road). We had invested in a Tag, that would bill my bank account automatically!  As we nervously  approached the Toll gate we wondered if it would work!  All of a sudden there was a ping from the tag, lights turned green and the barrier rose!  Success!

We found the site, which was behind huge gates, more reminiscent of a prison entrance!  Our pitch was a bit scruffy.  However the toilet block we superb!  We purchased a cooked chicken from the cafe for dinner. The site was very noisy as it was close to the peage and the railway! At 04.00am the site got very noisy as people started getting up and leaving for work. We certainly will not be using this site again!

We left at 10.00am and headed south to our final destination, Camping Floride at Le Barcares. We arrived there at 2.30, and spent time setting up as we were going to be here for over 4 weeks.  Our pitch has its own toilet and shower block. It is 100yards from the beach. Around us were many Dutch people that we have met in previous years, who welcomed us back.  When you are on a site like this where many people stay for weeks at a time you soon get to know people.

We soon fell into a routine of lazy days sat in the sun, enjoying good food and wine!

However things were soon to be disturbed!

After three days or so on camp we needed to go shopping to purchase food and wine. Set off towards the supermarket and the Freelander2 does not feel right. As we go down the dual carriageway, we start to loose power and the engine management light comes on!  Time for a U turn, and we limp back to the caravan!  Large glass of wine and I ring Red Pennant, the Caravan Club break down service!  I explain the problem and say that it needs to go to Land Rover Perpignan!  They say they will get it arranged, and in an hour or so I am called back to say that a big breakdown truck will be with me in the morning to take the Freelander away. Land Rover Perpignan did not want me to attempt to drive it as I could make things worse. The next day at the appointed time the breakdown truck appears and the Freelander, which now also has a flat battery is winched on to the truck and taken away!  Red Pennant say that it is going to be a few days before it is fixed so they have arranged a hire car for me. I duly get a taxi and set off to get my hire car.  A few days later I get a call to say that the Freelander is fixed, it was a split turbo hose, and  I duly set off to return the hire car, get a taxi to Land Rover Perpignan and collect the Freelander.  I pay the bill and return to the caravan and all seems well!
Our first hire car

We decide after a couple of days to go for a  run down the coast towards the Spanish border.  Off we go, stopping for morning coffee at St Cyprien.  We then continue our meanderings and all of a sudden the Freelander stops again!   After a bit of nursing, and some most un Paul like language we reach a small village and call Red Pennant.  Getting to be on first name terms with the brilliant staff there now!  Explain the situation, and they agree to find a Tow truck to take us to Land Rover Perpignan. Alas it is lunch time, and in France that means everything is shut for two hours!  Eventually a tow truck turns up and  the Freelander is loaded. Unfortunately there is only room for one in the lorry so Lizzie opts to travel in the Freelander on the tow truck. We get to Land Rover where the Freelander is unloaded and we get a Jaguar taxi back to the caravan.  As it is now the weekend again we are told that we will here nothing until the Monday. Red Pennant sort me out another hire car and we carry on enjoying the sun and 40 degrees of heat!

 Monday comes and Red Pennant ring to say it is a broken fuel pipe and there is not one in France!  Red Pennant keep badgering Land Rover to get it sorted. They also ring me daily with the latest news! Over a week later Red Pennant decide that if it is not fixed by the Tuesday, a 4X4 will be shipped out to us, and ours taken back to the UK on a truck. Miraculously the pipe arrives and we get the Freelander back!
The moral of this tale is make sure you have Red Pennant looking after you!

Morning Coffee stop!
Meanwhile our life at Le Barcares has continued, with trips to local markets and pretty villages, as well as time sat on the beaches, just enjoying the relaxed lifestyle with plenty of good food and wine.
My sea food dinner

Our Chicken man at the Market.
Freshly cooked chickens for 7 Euros.

Just oneof the market stalls.
The local market is held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday!

Our beach! plenty of room for all

We decided that before we began our journey home we would undertake a long trip that we had promised ourselves to Andorra. We set off and a couple of hours later after climbing some amazing passes, that made Lizzie quite nervous as the drop at the edge of the road was often over several thousand feet, we reached Andorra.

This is a shopping mecca as everything is so cheap. We spent several hours there just wandering and shopping before wending our way home from the mountainous country.
The route back down

  We did fill up with Diesel before we left as it was 1 euro a litre, about 71p.

Finally our time at Le Barcares was coming to an end. Many of our Dutch neighbours were also leaving as the prices for the pitches were about to double!

We cleared up and left to begin our nervous run home, was the Freelander going to behave. We set off up the Peage, which was very windy towards Narbonne, and then turned inland towards Toulouse.We had decide to stay  overnight at a site on the river at Moissac, a site we have been to before, called de l'ile du Bidounet.  It is an OK site with a very narrow entrance through an arched bridge.  The pitches are quite small and are laid out in a strange way.
Camp site Entrance

The Lake at Moissac

We left there at 10.00 the following morning and headed up the motorway back to Camping de Montreal, where we stayed for a couple of days, before moving north to Camping les Noblis, at Montreuil-Bellay. This was a lovely site with and excellent Bar and wifi.  It really would make a good touring base!

We left there and headed Villerieu-les-Poeles, where we were going to spend a couple of days doing shopping and enjoying our last proper French meal! The weather had changed and instead of burning heat we had a bit of rain.

Our last night in France

Our last proper French meal!

On the Friday we had a leisurely clear up and the headed for Cherbourg for our 18.30 ferry back to England. We landed at 22.00 and arrived home at midnight.

In all we covered 2002 miles! We had an absolutely fabulous time, with fantastic food and weather.
So good in fact that we have booked our pitch in Barcares for most of May and June next year!

As for the Freelander, well she has made her last foreign trip with us as she will be replaced shortly.  Our nerves cannot face another trip abroad in her!