We headed south towards Barcelona and found a large resort at Vilanova i la Gelthrú. This site had outside swimming pools and an indoor pool plus a restaurant and a spa. It was a lovely clean site and was the sort of place the British come and stay over the winter months. They even had language and dance classes. It had a holiday camp atmosphere but after two days it felt more like a prison camp and we were eager to hit the road again.
There was a daily bus that took you into Barcelona, a journey of about 45 minutes. We have never been to Barcelona and wondered what it was like. A city? Big? Hot? We didn’t catch that bus.
Weather wise, the next day was a day of all seasons as we drove south, leaving Bordeaux in 24° and heading towards Pau on the D929 and D173 to the Tunnel d’Aragnouet Bielas, which took us through the Pyrénées into Spain. First we saw snow on distant mountains then we travelled through ski areas with melting snow along the roadside. The temperature dropped as we climbed, plummeting to 9° at the mouth of the tunnel. On the other side as we descended it was cloudy and murky, we stopped overnight in the foothills of the Pyrénées but we woke up to rain and temperature of 15°, not cold but miserable. We did not want to linger long.
Charles and Caroline Lamb live at Monségur, south west of Bordeaux and we usually call in to annoy them as we are passing that way. We arrived mid afternoon and the weather very warm, well into the 20s. We spent a happy time on their newly built deck, enjoying the evening sun, some wine and later duck breast marinated and cooked on the barbecue, followed by strawberries with a strawberry liqueur. The writer remembers little more of the evening.
Charles and Caroline had to keep their front gate closed because they were looking after a neighbour’s aged black dog whilst they were away for a few days. During the evening, as it got dark, Caroline had to go to the neighbour’s house to lock up their chickens and when she got back she forgot to shut their gate. At the end of our boozy evening when we had retired, Caroline suddenly realised that the old dog could not be found. Eventually they drove to absent neighbour’s house and there was the old girl sitting patiently on the front step, invisible in the dark except for two bright eyes caught in their car headlights. It was fortunate it was a quiet road and the dog was not run over as it was limping home, invisible in the dark night.
We left the following morning nursing a bit of a headache.
We drove south the next day and stayed that night at Montbazon, near Tours. Now the weather was warm enough to sit outside for our evening meal in the site restaurant, overlooking the river Indre. The Dutchman in the pitch next door had a guitar and we enjoyed listening to his classical guitar playing while we were relaxing with a pre dinner drink. We were slightly less keen when he started to sing . . .
We reached Poitiers the following day and found a site by the river Charente. It was a beautiful spot and the old mill had been converted to a restaurant (Closed Mondays). It was Monday. The site itself was a little run down and seemed to be populated by “white van men” and their families living in dilapidated caravans. These itinerant workers would probably provide a valuable source of income to the site owners outside the holiday season but it did not create such a good atmosphere for touring visitors such as ourselves. However, everything was clean and tidy although the showers and toilets needed updating.
We have been travelling for a week now; it has been an uneventful journey but already it seems as if we have been on the road far longer than seven days. The plan was to travel south through France to Spain until we find some warmer weather and somewhere good to stay for a few days.
We left Folkestone early on Saturday morning and the ever efficient Eurotunnel delivered us to France within the hour and we were soon following the coast west to Le Crotoy, a small fishing village that hosts up to 100 camper vans in a sandy car park five minutes walk from the town centre.
A well recommended restaurant in Le Crotoy were fully booked on this Saturday so we took a punt on a seafront establishment surrounded by dozens stalls selling a wonderful selection of locally caught fish and shellfish. We ate oysters that tasted so fresh it made you weep with joy but our second course brought us to earth with a bump. Tony ordered a whole Dover sole. We had admired the huge glistening fish offered for sale just outside the restaurant but the sole Tony was served was tiny and had been over-cooked in a deep fat fried manner. It seemed to us that the minnows of the catch were sold to the restaurant to serve to ignorant tourists whilst the best specimens were sold to discerning French housewives. We realised that we should have bought a fish and cooked it back at the camper van but the weather was much too cold for a barbecue and we felt we needed the warmth of the restaurant and the healing qualities of a bottle of chilled rosé; we were not disappointed in that respect.
Our plans to travel to Italy, Greece and the eastern bloc countries have now been postponed until 2016. This June we have the opportunity to spend three weeks in Japan, travelling with Rita and Brian Shell as they visit their son, Jonny, who works in Hong Kong and has a house in Hokkaido. This means we will have less time to travel in Europe so the plan is to drive south until we find somewhere warm where we would like to stay for a week or so.
Looking at motoring through France, Belguim, Holland, Germany, Switzerland through to Italy where we will take a ferry to Patras in Greece. After exploring Greece feel we would like to travel back through some of the eastern bloc countries of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and back into Germany then home for the British summer. Plan to leave UK end of March early April returning July/August.
Dont know wether we will persevere through the UK winter without finding some sun elsewhere but nothing as yet planned apart from a few days in France before Christmas.
Have now finished all the jobs on our Motorhome so she is ready to roll and looking good after I spent a day hand polishing all the bodywork.