Monday, 22 August 2016

Start Bay, Devon

We decided that the South Hams would be our next destination, so with the Freelander and caravan loaded we set off taking our usual route down through Wells, Glastonbury and Street, aiming to join the M5 at Bridgwater, thereby avoiding all of the congestion that happens each week end between Bristol and Weston Super Mare.
Our plan worked and when we joined the motorway the traffic was flowing well.
Our first stop was to be Steamer Quay CC site at Totnes. This site is unusual in as much it is the only one run by the Caravan Club that does not have Electric hook up!

The River at Totnes looking north.
The site is right in the middle, almost on the edge of the river.  We arrived at 4.00pm and I wandered into town to book a table for dinner. No luck though as everything was fully booked, so at 6.30 we had some excellent take away pizzas.

Looking South.

At 10.30 the following morning we were packed up and on our way.  By stopping at Totnes overnight we are able to get to Start Bay Caravan Club site  for 12 noon.

As it was we arrived there at just after 11.30, having had an excellent run through the narrow roads, and were allowed on to the site. We pitched up on the grass, and soon had the awning up along with Zoe's tent.
Our set up!

The site was looking superb, with the managers Steve and Sue obviously having everything well under control.
Later in the afternoon I wandered down to Tor Cross to check out the beach!

Looking North along the beach at high tide.

Zoe and Mitch arrived the following day.  I popped into Salcombe to arrange some Mackerel fishing for later in the week.  It was regatta week so the town was very busy.  Unfortunately the Monday turned out quite wet, but that was the only rain we were to experience over the next couple of weeks.
On the way back from Salcombe we called into Cholwells Farm CL, as we are booked in there for later in the month.  £12.00 a night as opposed to the £25 we were paying at Start Bay.

On Wednesday, Zoe, Mitch and myself headed for Salcombe to go fishing. Unfortunately, Just as I had paid the parking fee we had a phone call to say no fishing as beyond the Bar the sea was far too rough. We were however rebooked for Thursday afternoon.

We went fishing in glorious weather on the Thursday afternoon, and came back with loads of fish!

Heading out over the Bar to fish!

Salcombe from the estuary always looks good!

One of the yachts moored in the harbour.

Even the countryside looks good from the sea!
 The weather had turned really hot and sunny, so we occupied our time by sitting in the sun outside the caravan, or down on the beach. I also spent some time fishing off the beach for Mackerel.
Each morning I went for a long walk down to Tor Cross to collect the daily papers.  As I did this I was able to compile some good photos of the beach, and Slapton Ley, which is a large lake that lays behind the road.

Looking over Slapton Ley from the coast road!  I would love to live in one of those houses.

Slapton Ley from another angle.

Yet another view along the beach!

The tank on the beach
 Each day when out walking I would pass this tank!  It was placed here after being recovered from the sea.  This part of the South Hams was evacuated in November 1943 for the Allies to practice for the  invasion of France on D Day.  visit    for the complete story!

We spent the rest of our time there visiting local beaches and villages bathed in the gorgeous sunshine.

The weather stayed beautiful right up until we left on the 14th of August getting home late afternoon ready for Zoe's birthday on the Monday.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Riat 2016, a wedding and Southwell

Well after a couple of days at home we were off again, this time to Fairford for the Royal International Air Tattoo.
We drove up there and met up with Robert who had arrived the previous day. We soon set up camp and settled down for a few days of serious plane viewing. We were in our usual position on the field so had a good view.   Our new awning, purchased from Norwich Camping had arrived whilst we were in France, so we were able to put that up for the first time.  It is exactly the same as the previous one.
This year we had decided not to go in to the actual airfield, just to sit and watch, as many others did.
Also on the Friday we were going to leave late afternoon as we were attending Bailey and Pauls wedding the following day.  So on Friday, when Mark had arrived we left for home. When we got home Jade, James, Jack and Josie were there.  Lots of hugs as we had not seen them for 11 weeks.
Enjoyed the wedding which was held a Tortworth Court

We arrived back at the caravan on Saturday night at about six pm, and joined Robert and Mark in the bar!
Sunday was spent watching the displays as we sat outside of our caravan enjoying the excellent weather.

Monday morning started early as all of the planes, some 300,  that had come for the show started to depart.  It was like being at Heathrow as there seemed to be take offs every minute or so.

  Whilst watching the activity we cleared up ready to move on.  The planes certainly got close to us as they lined up to depart!

We were moving on to Southwell to see Nic, Stuart and Scarlett for a few days.
Robert followed us north until we reached the M42, when hen sped off along to the M6 and we headed North North East towards Southwell.
We got to Maythorne campsite at about 4.00pm and set up. We were soon joined by Nic, Stuart and Scarlett.
We stayed at Southwell for a week, enjoying excellent weather. Whilst there we spent some time exploring the town which really is a delightful place.

Southwell minster
The Minster is well worth a visit, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend one of their services.

Whilst we were at Southwell we all went to visit The Midland Railway, Butterley.
We went for a ride on the train, and were fortunate to travel in a Diesel Multiple Unit with seats right behind the driver!
Our view of the line

On our journey along the line we went through Swanwick junction where they encourage you to get off and visit the loco sheds.  We however decided to drive there, but there were no sign posts to it, so with some superb work on her Iphone Nic discovered the route.

It was a truly amazing place, with all the sheds open.  Unusually you could wander everywhere, even through the engineering works.  Very unusual to be able to do this in such Health and Safety concious days.
A selection of photos from the dozens that I took follow.

Our train

Some wagons and locos were stored outside

Inside one of the very modern workshops

Inside another of the sheds!  This shed needs a new roof though.

Next door was this place.

Inside it was full of all sorts of Fork Lift Trucks

 It  was good to spend time with them all, and also to meet up with Nics Mum and Dad again.

Scarlett making biscuits!

 After a few more days spent with Stuart, Nic and Scarlett, it was time for us to depart for home as Stuart and family were going to travel to their new home just south of Munich.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

French Adventure 2016

Well the house seemed to be littered with endless lists and piles of things needed on the trip!  I worried about where it was all going to go! However it all finally went in, most of it in the back of the Freelander2. The final thing in was my bike, which with the wheels and pedals removed slid in easily over everything else.

So we were off, on Saturday 30th April, heading for Poole.  We arrived on the Quay at 19.45, and were soon sat enjoying a glass of wine in the evening sun. At 06.30 there was a knock at the door of the caravan and we were asked to move forward to the departure gate as soon as we were ready! Legs up and we moved forward. Formalities dealt with and we were on to security and customs! I love it when they ask if we are carrying knives!  I just point to the kitchen drawer!  Anyway we were soon on the ferry, ready for an 08.30 departure. In for a surprise then as by 08.15 we were on our way over the Oggin.

An early departure meant that we arrived early and we were one of the first off. Straight through customs and passport control, then we were away!
Our first stop was to be Villedieu-les Poeles. We have been here many times before, but it is a good site, in a tidy little town. We arrived at the site at about 16.00,and were immediately impressed. The whole site was immaculate. The new managers obviously knew what they were doing, unlike last years managers.

Looking down on the site from the bar!

We were away at 10.00 the following morning, heading for Montreuil Bellay. Again this is a site that we have used before, but when we are just traveling through France, I see no point in looking for a fresh site every night. We had dinner and then sat in the sun.

Again we were up and away by 10.00 in the morning, heading for our next stop. This was to be Camping de Montreal, at St Germain Les Belles, where we were staying for seven nights.  We have been here before, and have got to know Hans and Leone very well.  Having called Hans a few days earlier, we knew a lakeside pitch had been reserved for us!
We were there at about 14.30, to be greeted in the full continental manner, and then in the gorgeous sun set up properly.We were staying here for a week as we wanted to enjoy the area.

The view from our pitch

He is not in Prison.  Chris from the pitch next to us spent his time carp fishing!  This one weighed 32lbs

During our week at Camping de Montreal we went to visit The Village of the Martyrs, Oradour-sur Glane.
On June 10th 1944 the German SS massacred 642 of its inhabitants.  Many of them were shepherded into the church, which was than locked and set on fire.
As a memorial to this attrocity the village has been left exactly as it was.  Look at for more information.
It really is a very eerie place but is well worth a visit!  Everything was left as it was when the Germans departed.

After a very pleasant week in some lovely weather it was time to move south again, so we cleared up and set off for Les Terrasses du lac at Pont -De-Salars.
We duly arrive there at 15.00 to find a.very disappointing site. Despite having been open since the beginning of April it was very unkempt.  The grass had not been cut and the whole site just looked unloved!

This picture  makes the site look far better than it was.

A quick decision was made that we would have dinner, go to bed and then be away early the following morning heading south. After not much sleep due to very heavy rain we were up and away before 09.00 heading towards the Millau Viaduct.
The site Lizzie had chosen was Le Fou du Roi at Lansargues, on the edge of the Petit Camargues.
We had a good run down, with Lizzie hiding her head in a book as we went over the viaduct!
As we approached the site we had to divert to avoid bridges that only had 10 foot headroom!
What a contrast when we found the site.  It was immaculate!
The owner spoke some English, and the small cafe and shop were open.
We selected a corner pitch and set up.  There were a couple of other units on the site, none of them were English. the decision was made that we would stay here for a week to give us time to relax  in the sun and explore the surrounding area.

Lizzie, accompanied by Elsa and Greg the ground grinder.

Elsa and Greg were given to us by grandchildren Izzy and Freddy for us to photograph on our travels.

Lunch time in the village square

The entrance to the site!
We enjoyed touring the area and saw many of the famous wild horses. The coastal strip was very busy and is some places very commercialised.  It was also remarkably difficult for us to access the beaches
After a week it was time to move on again. this time we were moving south west to Narbonne, where we would pitch up at Camping la nautique.

We found a large pitch and soon set up. All the pitches here have their own individual toilet block, as well as water and waste disposal on each pitch. Luxury!

On the Sunday for some reason I decided to check the doors on the Freelander.  Normally I just lock it with the fob and never bother to check.  Anyway I discovered that the drivers door was not locking! A bit crucial as our passports, extra money and important papers were locked in the Freelander! So the following morning I rang Land Rover assist.  Within half an hour they had me booked in at the local Land Rover main agent for the following morning. The next day I went to the agent. They checked it and told me to come back the following morning as they would have to get a new locking mechanism. I returned the following morning and the Freelander was repaired, and as a bonus washed the outside and valeted inside!  The joys of going to a main dealer!

Whilst we were at La Nautique we visited much of the coast line and found some delightful places. We were also able to get baked beans in the local supermarket.

One funny thing that happened whilst we were there was an English couple who set up opposite us. It turns out that they had pre-booked and prepaid for all of their sites through the Caravan Club.  They were paying considerably more than us per night.  We use the ACSI book that gives you a discounted rate except in July and August. The book and membership card cost about £10.00 a year, and we cover the cost in just two nights stay!
As they unloaded we saw an ironing board, a coffee machine and 300 cans of beer come out of the caravan. In conversation it turned out that he did not like French beer so he brought his own.  He also admitted that they were very overloaded but he was not worried about that!  It certainly takes all sorts!

The local harbour

It was soon time to move on so we cleared up ready to travel down to Le Barcares where we were staying on our pre booked beach side pitch for a month.

After a very windy run down the motor way we reached Le Barcares and were soon booked in and settled on our pitch. When we arrived we were greeted by our Dutch neighbours who we have met here in previous years!

Lizzie on one of our beach visits.

We quickly fell into a routine of Coffee along the front at our favourite restaurant, and visits to the market, (Wed, Fri and Sunday).

The Market

We sat in the sun or went to the beach, just enjoying the beautiful weather.

The beach on a busy day!

I was able to cycle for miles along the coastal paths, where I could really explore the local area.
After a couple of weeks Lizzie was able to hire a mobility scooter so she was able to join me on my forays into the local area.  That certainly made life easier for us.
Lizzie gets wheels!

One thing we had to do though was to order a new awning as ours was showing daylight through patches on the roof.  Browsing the internet we found that Norfolk camping was selling the awning we wanted, so one was ordered for delivery to home.  On the day we cleared up it split from top to bottom.

Dancing in the village square

One excursion we did was down to Spain, to see Zoe, who was staying at Loret de Mer with her dad and a group of friends. We had an excellent day with them all!

All too soon it was time to head for home, 28 days had gone so fast. We had been looking  for a site just north of Toulouse. I went on Caravan Talk and asked for ideas.

 A site called Camping de Montech was suggested. This was a lovely well kept site just off the motorway, and despite not being in the ACSI book was only 14 euros a night.

From there we headed North again for our next stop at Camping de Montreal, where we stopped for a couple of nights, enjoying more excellent sunshine.

Can you spot our caravan

We then headed for Le Nobis d'Anjou where we stopped for a couple of nights. This site is on the edge of Montreuil-Bellay, which looked to be an attractive little town. We spent a day exploring the town before moving on again.

The local Chateau

Inside the church.

Our final site was back at Villedieu les Poeles, which when we arrived was rather busy so it was fortunate that we had booked. We were now right in the middle of the area that was going to be used by the Tour de France for 4 days. The town was full of vehicles associated with the tour as well as one team that was being based on the main car park.

On the Saturday instead of meandering up the country roads to Cherbourg we had to use the motorway. Many of the country roads were shut due to the tour.  As we drove up the motorway we were overtaken by many of the Tour de France team buses. At one point we actually saw the tour passing below the motorway.

We finally got Cherbourg at 4.15 and were on the ferry by 5.00pm. Departure was delayed due to an unwell passenger. After an excellent crossing we arrived in Poole at 10.30 and were home by 12.30.
An excellent trip!
63 nights away.
2502 miles.
99.28 gallons of Diesel