Before contstructing the plateau steps, we had the new Fosse installed the filter system would require an area of 72 sq metres, consisting of four 12 metre long 100 mm diameter perforated pipes set parallel at 1.5 metres apart and 400 mm deep, and on gravel 150 mm deep covered with a porous membrane, then covered with soil.The contractor we employed agreed to level the area where the filter pipes had been laid and before the Fosse was commissioned.
Well, as you can see from the image, his perception of level to me looks like the winner of “The young ploughman of the year” competition. We had a bit of a disagreement and I would not recommend him. The Fosse and the filter system are very good, it’s the mess that you are left with to put right that’s the disappointment, especially after we were assured that “it will be level when finished” before giving him the job. At the finish of his work, he told us we needed to leave it for 2 months for the soil to sink and compress! We parted with me angry and him happy because of the money in his pocket.
Levelling the ground
…I started to cut into the soil to form the steps and get a rough idea of how it was going to look. Steps are normally 300 mm wide with a rise of 150 mm, but I felt that this was not going to be suitable for garden steps so I decided to make them 700 mm deep with a rise of 150 mm so that the sweep of the steps would curve around and rise gently. We had to balance out the time I spent on forming the steps with the levelling of the plateau, because if it rained before I got the foundations for the steps finished we would have a worse mess than we had now. As it turned out the summer of 2016 was great.
I spent the mornings and part of the afternoons working on the steps and the late afternoons/evenings on levelling the plateau. The terrain in Bretagne is rock and slate with some soil covering some of it, so doing anything below the topsoil is hard work, but as I needed rocks and slate for building the walls, I did not mind to start with but it becomes trying after a few weeks. The construction of the steps took around 8 weeks and the levelling slightly longer. Mrs Kindog was an absolute Trojan. The filter area had been cleared of the large rocks but the whole area would need to be cleared of all the small to medium size stones and rocks as we wanted the plateau grassed. Using stakes and a level we gradually worked our way across an area 2 mtrs by 2 mtrs sieving the soil of stone and then raking the soil level. It was a very tedious job but over the weeks we got the plateau level. The bottom step had to be flush with the ground level when finished so as to avoid anybody using the steps from tripping, so digging this one out and hard coring and shuttering it up ready for its concrete base took a bit of planning, but once done gave me encouragement to get the rest dug out and shuttered. I use 5 mm galvanised steel wire shape in a “tic tac toe” pattern to strengthen the base for the paving slabs. The hard core came from an internal wall that I removed. The risers were formed from some old aluminium garden staging shelving and some 8 mm plywood that I already had. I staked the aluminium into positions to hold the soil back and used the plywood that had 50 mm uprights to set it off from the aluminium forming a concrete upright. I repeated the process until I had all the steps formed and then cut the slabs and set them into position, then I coated the uprights with external masonry paint.
Using the rocks and large stones that we collected from people in the village and what we took out of the garden, I built the retaining wall just up to the second from top step before the bad weather started. I had intended to finish off the rest of the retaining wall in 2017 but plans change and it will have to wait till spring/summer 2018 before I can return to it, which is something I am really looking forward to.
We have achieved a lot, which gave us a good feeling. We had planned to do more but, as with all plans, they get modified as you move forward and problems occur which need to be addressed and solved or, as I have found, time supplies the solutions and it’s just how you adapt yourself.
I had started to convert the downstairs bathroom, study & W/C into a bedroom and en suite in 2016, then as the new year 2017 started I got back into it and spent the next 3 months finishing it off. I had planned to finish the steps and pathway that I had been building in the summer/autumn of 2016 but, as I said, plans change. Mrs K decided she would like to get some chickens, “just four little chicks” … Chicken Paradise. … Well four turned into seven: one adult Coucou de Rennes, two Faverolles and four Blue and Gold Marans. The plan was that as I had too much work planned, the best option would be to buy a ready made chicken coop, so we scanned the internet and found what we thought would be perfect. We had not acquired the chickens at this stage, just preparing to buying the coop. The description said the coop was big enough for six chickens. Well, when it arrived and we assembled it, yes big enough for six small chickens, so my planned work suddenly changed with a chicken coop being made the priority.
Mrs K had arranged to adopt an adult Coucou de Rennes that was being bullied by a cock and was in a bad way with both shoulders plucked of all it’s feathers. We collected the coucou chicken, and at this point I need to say “we have never had any chickens before”. We placed her in the coop, gave her some food and was just about to put some water in when she made a quick escape and into the cow field that’s next to our house. After 45 minutes we had managed to catch her. We had only owned the chicken 30 second before she got free and was running around in a cow field with freshly dumped soggy cow pats. Not my idea of fun, but we had a good laugh about it after we caught her.
The Coucou de Rennes are a fairly large chicken and this is when we decided that the coop would not be large enough. As I mentioned we had arranged to buy 4 Marans and would be picking them up when they would be 7 weeks old, in around 5 weeks time. Mrs K found out as much as she could about keeping chickens, we just want the chickens for the eggs they produce. I had seen images of a coop that I considered a good way of protecting them from Mr Raynard at night. It did not take too long before I had the skeleton constructed with a roosting area that has a ladder that you pull up at night to make it secure, so even if Mr Raynard manages to get into the coop he cannot get to the chickens. After another 2 weeks work I had the coop finished. I just needed to make a walled base to sit it on. A few concrete blocks and some concrete washing post that I had removed from the garden earlier made the perfect base. I had constructed the coop on a relatively flat part of our garden; the problem I had would be to move it into its final position. Two friends from Gouarec Ruthy baby and Barry came over to help us move it. I had planned to move it using four sack trucks, one on each corner, but when it came to it, this was just not going to work. Barry came to my rescue. He had two four-wheeled flat bed movers and thought that they would solve the problem. A scaffold plank under each end and the flat bed movers had the coop moved and in position within an hour – job complete. A very big thank you to Ruth & Barry.
Mrs K had decided that her favourite breed of chickens was the Faverolle. Having contacted a breeder asking if he had 4 that she could buy, he said that sorry but no. We then arranged to buy 4 Blue & Gold Marans, but would have to wait. Mrs K was then contacted to say that 2 Faverolles were available, so off we went to pick up the Faverolles. This is how the original 4 grew into 7 chickens. We had been told that when you get new chickens before integrating them with other chickens you keep them separate for a while, so they become used to one another. The Coucou (now named Mavis) had the website coop and the Faverolles the new coop. We then found out that larger chickens pick on the smaller ones, so until they are about the same size you have to keep them separate. So, 2 weeks later when we picked up the Marans, we would have to keep all three breeds apart until they reached adulthood (20/26 weeks) or similar stature. We had concerns about Mavis, as having been picked on we wondered if she was too traumatised ever to lay again. We waited 2 weeks for her to settle in her new environment with no egg arriving. Mrs K read about Cayenne pepper and how it encourages laying. “It works!” After a little added pepper to her food egg production started and has continued. We kept the chicks apart for best part of the summer and then integrated them all in the main coop and now we have egg-laying chickens. We have put a wire fence around the two coops which has become their … Chicken Paradise. …
A French Potager
I had been asked by a very good friend in the village, as we are both keen gardeners, if I would be interested in working a piece of land that another friend had on the outskirts of the village. He suggested maybe we could use it to grow some extra vegetables…..to read more click…..A French potage
Next Job the Plateau
When we had the Fosse installed we were left with a mess. I will not go into it, suffice to say, when you want something done and you can do it yourself, just get on and do it. After we levelled off the area we now call “the plateau”, we attempted to lay a lawn from seed without success, so I had a look on the internet and after a few inquires foundNantes Gazon and a guy called Benjamin Grossel. I can highly recommend him if you want grass turf. The quality and delivery service is exceptional. It comes at a price but, in my opinion, a very reasonable price and top quality turf. I needed around 100 sq mtrs. With the ground prepared (I only just finished it on the morning of delivery) I started to lay the turf. The turf comes in 1 sq mtr rolls 40 cm x 2500 cm; it took me 3 days to lay the whole area. It has now transformed the view from our patio and turned what was a mess into what will become a lovely seating area for 2018.
Le vieux chaval dessiner charrue
Our two friends from Gouarec Ruthy baby and Barry were very lucky on a trip to their local dechetterie: they noticed a chaval dessiner charrue (an old horse drawn plough). They asked the attendant if it was for sale and was told they could have it at no charge. They quickly loaded it into their trailer and home they went. They restored it and have it as a garden feature. I took a liking to it and thought if ever I came across one, I would see if I could get it. Having laid the lawn I wanted to try and keep the moles away. Looking on the internet we saw an advert for “sonic mole deterrents” at a reasonable price and not too far away. When we pulled up outside we saw an old plough in a bit of a state but, with a bit of hard work, it could be restored. We bought the mole deterrents and I mentioned that if they ever wanted to sell the plough I would be interested at a sensible price.The couple then said they were off to Spain at the end of the month and would have a talk about how much they thought it was worth and contact us soon, which they did, and we eventually agreed a price. The plough was in a need of repair, and even one of the wheels had a section completely corroded away. I was told about a scrapyard not far from Herve, called Le Forge. We found a badly damaged plough, parts of which I could make use of for restoration. I managed to spend a few hours here and there removing all the rust and damaged parts of the plough, and renewing the wheels and wheel caps. A few new coats of paint and I had it restored and it is now in our garden. Another job sorted.
I have planted my Autumn garlic ready for next year. The garlic and onions that I grew in my raised beds this year were very good. The red and white onions grew to a fair size; the spring sown garlic were on the small size but very strong and juicy. I had a lovely crop of around 100. It was the first time I have grown garlic and I have now read that they are better sown in the autumn, which allows for root growth, which is supposed to be reflected in the size that the cloves grow to, but time will tell. The french gardeners that I have spoken to only plant in the spring, I am going to plant some spring garlic as well.
We have had a very good and productive 2017 and we are looking forward to 2018 and finishing off the steps, pathway and plateau walls.
Their venture with a French Potager. We were given the opportunity to work a area of land on the border of the village, it had been cleared of some trees and worked lightly in 2016. A villager tilled (ploughed and harrowed) the land for us prior to the planting of Jersey Malc’s large selection of potatoes. We also plan to grow onions (white and red), sweetcorn, beetroot and french beans. We are going to try cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli, also known as Roman cauliflower, Romanesque cauliflower or simply Romanesco – I have always called it Romanesco. I have been told it is very difficult to grow in this area of France but we will try: until you try you won’t know.
It is very early days in our French Potager, but “Jerseys” large selection of potatoes are planted and the other seedlings are in the polytunnel in my garden waiting to get planted. We are both keen gardeners but neither of us have had an allotment before as we both have fairly large gardens which take a lot of time to maintain. Putting in the extra hours that the Potager will require will be a challenge. The different varieties of potatoes are King Edwards, Jersey Royals, Sarpo Mira, Charlotte, Anya, Valor, Ratte and Mona Lisa. Hopefully if we don’t get hit by blight we should have enough potatoes to see us through the winter.
We started to plant the spuds on the 20th April and by the 2nd of May we have shoots coming through, which is very encouraging as we are hoping for a good crop of potatoes.
We have planted the onions in squares about 1.25 m x 1.25 m. I set my onions about 100 mm apart and have had great success doing it this way; it’s easy to keep the weeds in check and the onions grow to a very good size. We are growing a number of different varieties. I have chosen a Centurion F1 a white onion.
We had a very good harvest. The potatoes we planted gave us about 400Kg, which will keep us and our friends in spuds for a while! The onions also gave us a good reward with around 350 very good sized onions. The red onions really surprised me with their size, and no complaints with the white ones either. We planted a variety of veg and, apart from around half a row of spuds that fed the slugs, we were very well rewarded for our efforts.
This gallery shows our progress
We hope to be a bit more organised next year, getting the plot turned over a bit earlier than we did this year. a friend of Jerseys has offered to use his spud planting machine to make the planting easier. I am hoping the fund raising events I have planned, will pay for Malcs therapy.
Au revoir for now.
Late Summer 2015 was going to be a very busy time for us as we had bought a wood burner back in the spring and a survey had been carried out on the house for fitting the liner etc. On our early summer visit to Garzanic we had found a major problem with what turned out to be bees in the chimney (we had thought that they were wasps). We contacted a pest control expert, who on his visit to inspect the infestation, quickly corrected us. “Ah non, non, monsieur. C’est abeilles! Abeilles!” Bees are protected in Bretagne so we would need to get the permission from the Maire before we could do anything about removing them from the chimney. The Maire gave his permission for the removal of the bees and the pest controller soon had the situation under control. “If you leave it for about 3 weeks you should not have a problem.” Our worries were now eased. “If you have a problem just call me and I will come back and sort it out for you” he said, getting back into his van after we had paid the fee for his efforts.
We were returning to the UK in a few days and would not be coming back for 5 weeks so the timing was about right. We had confirmation the installation of the wood burner would be on the 7th September.
On our late spring visit we removed the archway which split the lounge in two, and also knocked down part of the return wall, reducing it from 80cm to 40cm. As we had increased the height and opening between the rooms we were able then to instal a 20cm x 20cm oak beam. This has opened up the living area and has made a huge difference. I also exposed the chimney terracotta flue liner to make sure the stainless steel flue liner would be able to be installed. All was OK so I re-sealed the opening to the liner.
We were informed that the installation of the wood burner would be a week earlier than had been planned, so we had to rearrange our travel plans to return home to coincide with the installation.
When we returned in September we removed all of the wallpaper from the area around where the fire was to go and rendered and plastered the wall that I had reduced. The pest controller had said that it would be safe to open up the chimney and get it swept before the installation of the fire.
Every thing was going to plan but, as so often happens, plans have a way of going wrong! We slowly and carefully removed the packing from the chimney liner and shone a torch light up the chimney. All seemed OK. I started to poke my drain clearing rods up the liner and lots of dead bees came down the chimney. There seemed a never-ending amount of bees. We were both very concerned as to how many dead bees there were. The smell was appalling and the whole of the lounge area absolutely stank. Then a big clump of bees fell to the floor and suddenly we could hear from the chimney the sound of bees – then two very big frelons (hornets) came whizzing down into the lounge. (A few days after this we found another dead frelon in another part of the house. We had thought only two had come down the chimney but this one must have got in without us noticing, which could have been very nasty.) The frelons frightened the life out of both of us and we grabbed hold of Kindog and ran out of the room, closing all the doors behind us.
We stood there knowing we had to go back in and catch these huge hornets. I wondered just how many were there and was a swarm of bees going to follow? And what the hell were we going to do?! We managed to trap the hornets in two separate small jars and I quickly blocked the hole up. We went outside to look at the chimney top and there were bees and hornets flying all around. So much for “you shouldn’t have a problem”.
The house stank. There were dead bees in a huge pile in the corner of the room. We were shaking like leaves but we calmed each other down and decided that the bees had to be cleared up. Half an hour later and a rubble bag full of bees, we decided to go and see our friend Gerard and ask his advice.
I showed Gerard the pictures that I had taken of the pile of dead bees. Jacqueline looked up pictures of the frelons in her book and it turned out one was a French species and the other an Asiatic, which meant we had to report it to the Mairie, which we did a day or so later. Gerard contacted the pest controller and made arrangements for him to visit us the next day. Gerard and his wife Jacqueline were surprised at the amount of bees that had come down the chimney. The pest controller came the next day and after a few head shakes and some “Gallic” mutterings he assured us that he had solved the problem and that we would be able to continue clearing the chimney the next day. Gerard turned up the next morning and said he had been in touch with a friend of his, a Monsieur Dupré, and that I could use the suit M. Dupré uses for collecting honey from his hives. Fully protected we continued to clear the bees from the chimney. Gerard and I took it in turns poking the rods up the liner. After about an hour we reached the cowl that sits on the top of the chimney, so at last we had cleared out all the bees. We will be forever grateful to Gerard for all the help and advice he has given us.
Installing the “Poele de Bois”. The artisans Philippe and Johann turned up on the arranged date and time with all of the necessary parts and equipment. We had a quick overview of what was required and they then set to work, one working from the roof down and the other from the ceiling up. We had explained about the bees and they were very understanding and just gave a few Gallic shrugs as if they had seen it all before. We had thought that the chimney was cleared, but the honeycomb from the bees was still in place, so Johann started to try and dislodge it using rods from the chimney top and Philippe and I from the lounge. It took us about an hour of very hard work but finally we managed to clear the honeycomb. The smell from the honeycomb was nearly as bad as it was from the bees. The floor and every tool we were using became sticky. This attracted bees and flies from everywhere; the bees were coming down the flue liner; the flies came in through the open doors. For about an hour or so we all suffered, until I managed to clean the floor and tools. Johann suffered a few scares on top of the roof, because as we were dislodging the honeycomb, the smell was attracting frelons which were trying to get to the source of the smell. He quickly came down from the roof with a very disgruntled look about him and waving his hands around and saying “tres dangerous”. I went to the local “Point Vert” and armed him with some anti-frelon spray which he used with abandonment. Still, I was not going up there, so I just kept him supplied. It wasn’t long before they had the liner and the aeration cowl fitted. Once the air intake pipe was fitted through the wall it was just a case of lifting the wood burner into position and connecting the fixed flue pipe, which they had done in no time. What I thought would take a few days to do was completed by two very skillful French artisans in a matter of a day. We were very impressed by the whole experience from the purchase of the wood burner and survey from Leroy Merlin and installation by the Calor Bois of St Brieuc and would recommend them to anyone. As they say, “you pay for what you get”.
Nicole..Lee and J come to visit the video below is a very good reflection on their visit. We all had a very good time and “J” was absolutely great with helping us in the garden,
Sound Track by Matt Bialas
The day after they arrived, we had a wonderful lunch at L’Esacale Barrage de Bosmeleac. Then, a few days later after the Poele de Bois was installed we went to Josselin and then onto Abbeye Bon Repose, where we had a drink and a light lunch. Unfortunately I left my wallet in the wash room of the restaurant, but I didn’t realise this until about 10am the next day. The discovery of the loss caused total panic as we were about to go to St Brieuc. I was convinced that it would be a day of phone calls and frustration, trying to cancel and replace all my bank cards etc. We rushed over to the restaurant in the car. The owner was there and I explained what I had done, but he said no one had handed in a wallet. I knew what I had done the previous day when I had gone to the wash room: placed my wallet on top of the towel cupboard before using the toilet. I went in to the wash room and, to my great surprise, there it was – still in the same place with all the contents still there… Relief…and sheer happiness came over me. The day turned from gloom to sheer relief, and off we went to St Brieuc. The conversation was just about how foolish and how very lucky I had been. We got to Leroy Merlin in St Brieuc and ordered the wall tiles that were to go behind the wood burner and would pick these up on our next visit to France in late September. A day or so later the family returned to England after a very good holiday, and a few days later we also packed up and returned to the UK.
We return for our last summer visit with a list of things to do. The tiles and adhesive that we had ordered on our last visit were ready for collection and a quick visit to Leroy Merlin had the first thing on the list sorted out. Relatives that have a home in Spain called in on their way back to the UK, which was very nice and as it turned out very handy. I had ordered a cord of wood for the fire and it was going to get delivered on the Monday. The plan was for it to go straight into the garage, but when it arrived the pallet it was on was never going to go in through the doorway as it was too high. The only way to get the wood in was for it to be unloaded from the pallet halfway, then cut in half vertically. We then put the half-pallet in the garage and reloaded the wood. Then we repeated the process for the other half. Many hands make light work as someone once said, and Phyllis and Roger worked their socks off. We were so grateful to both of them. We celebrated our efforts that evening and I had a bit too much wine as it turned out! We enjoyed a lovely meal and started to reminisce about the past and, as time passed and glasses got filled, it was not until the next morning I realised that one less glass would have been advisable, but what the heck – it was a good night and we had worked very hard that day. Kindog needed to go and do the business before going to bed and she started to sniff about on the door step. “Come and look at this!” Mrs K shouted, so we got up to see what all the fuss was about. We couldn’t quite believe what was on the step: a Salamander. I have never seen one before and in fact I don’t think that any of us had seen one. They are surprisingly beautiful in an ugly sort of way. Their markings tell you to stay away. Salamanders are capable of regenerating lost limbs within in a few weeks, including tails and toes, allowing them to survive attacks from predators. Scientist are looking into this regeneration process in the hope of helping people that have been unfortunate to have lost limbs.
We brought a range of flowering bulbs with us for planting in the garden and as the weather was so nice I decided to clear the banked area near the compost containers and Roger gave me a hand with this. The area had been allowed to get overgrown with yellow flowering Broom, and it took quite a bit of effort to remove it and get the area ready for planting. While trying to remove a stump I fell backwards after pulling too hard on a particularly stubborn clump and ended up flat on my back. Roger was creased up laughing and saying what you doing laying down there? After getting to my feet and back to work, it was no more than 60 seconds when Roger was flat on his back after tripping on a stump. We just both cracked up laughing. I think in Roger’s case it’s an age thing but I don’t expect he will agree with me! In the spring of next year it will look nice with Tulips, Daffodils, Alliums and Hyacinths and some others that I can’t remember the names of poking their heads up and putting on a nice show.
It was time for Phyllis and Roger to return to the UK. It had been a nice few days with their company and help, but it had seemed like they had only just arrived and they were off again. I needed to get on and tile the walls behind the fire. It took me the next three days to complete it with fitting in the other thing we had arranged to do while over in France. Our visit was all too short but it had turned out to be productive and we returned to the UK a day or so later looking forward to our Christmas and New year visit. The wood burner was all in place and working so we should be nice and warm when the winter comes and that was our main aim to achieve this year.
We completed the sale of our UK property on the 16th of December 2013. It was a very stormy, wet and windy day; sad in ways but exciting with the prospect of completing the purchase of our French home. The delay on the sale meant that we would be unable to get our furniture moved over at the same time, as we were nearing the Christmas holiday period, when we get a well deserved winter break. The logistics of getting our furniture moved to France had became too complicated. When we tried to get the dates we needed to fit together with the international removal company, it became obvious to us that it was just too late in the year. We opted to put our belongings into storage and transport them over in the New Year.
We had a booking on “Le Shuttle” for the 18th December, travelling down to Corlay for our appointment with the “Notaire” at 2 pm Thursday the 19th December. He had completed all the preliminary work, so it only took about an hour and a half to complete the remainder of the legal necessities, and with the monies having already been transferred the day before, it was a very smooth process. The “Notaire” wished us well and handed us the keys to our new property, and within 10 minutes we were entering our new home. The house had stood empty for quite a while as the previous owner had returned to the UK in 2012, so as we were entering the winter season the house had a cold, damp feel to it. “Right, we need to get the heating on” we both said simultaneously. I said, “You get the kettle on while I try and get the heating going.” I had been shown how to switch the boiler on by the immobilaire on our second viewing but that was back in the summer. We had particularly specified a clause in the contract to have the boiler serviced before completion so I was confident that it would work without any problems. The heating system is “oil fired” which heats the water and runs the radiators for heating. But even though I am in the business of property maintenance I know absolutely nothing about oil fired boilers, so I just hoped it would work, as it was becoming dark and quite cold. The weather which was over the UK was also over Bretagne.
The basement, or “cave” is the full footprint of the house, and it’s divided up into one long garage/workshop, a laundry room which also houses the electricity meter and fuse box, and another room with the oil tank and boiler. The boiler fired up first time, so all I wanted now was a much needed cup of tea. We had travelled over to France in the motorhome, which had everything we would need. Soon Mrs K had a cup of tea ready for both of us. The previous owner had left a few items behind, and the kitchen table and four chairs were very welcome, tucked up beside the radiator and in front of the window. We looked at each other and smiled. We’d done it! We had none of our possession with us except what was in the motorhome, but it didn’t matter – we had our home and that’s what counted. The radiators was not getting warm and the boiler had been going for about twenty minutes, so I contacted the immobilaire. He made a suggestion of how to get it going, which would have been useful if I had had a plumber’s tool kit with me. I thought that as the house had stood empty for a while the radiators probably needed venting. We’d arranged for the boiler to be serviced and it obviously worked, but no-one had checked to see whether the radiators got hot, and it obviously wasn’t part of the service. I vented the radiators and within minutes we had heating, but it would be a while before the chill left the house. The weather was getting worse; the wind was starting to swirl around and it looked like we were in for a storm. Mrs K had all her cleaning liquids and Marigolds out on the worktops and it was going to be hours before she would stop. There was an electric imitation log fire in a wooden fireplace surround against one of the walls, so I switched it on. It worked and proved to be very efficient, warming the room up quickly. We soon had our gilets off, and Mrs K had the kitchen cupboards open and the drawers out, washing and cleaning every surface.
It was well into the night before she felt as if she’d done enough for the day. We had had a long day and I thought it was, as Zebedee would say, “time for bed”. (If you’re as old as me you will understand.) We couldn’t sleep in the house as there were no beds, so we made our way down the basement stairs and out through the garage to the motorhome. The wind was absolutely howling and the rain, driven by the wind, soaked us just getting the few feet to the comfort of our motorhome. It was going to be a stormy night. The rain had not really stopped since we moved out of our UK home, and staying in a motorhome or caravan when its rains heavily is like being inside a drum with someone beating it. We settled down and I had a couple of well deserved nightcaps. Our home is situated on the side of a valley, the base of which is about 700 – 800 metres away and probably 125 metres below us. The wind and rain were relentless and getting to sleep was almost impossible. The whole of Northern France and Southern England were being hit by a massive low pressure system that was going to last until the New Year with only a few days when it did not rain. We managed to get some sleep but woke early, with both of us eager to start getting the house cleaned. It seemed like every few moments I was being called to remove one spider after another as Mrs K prefers them outside and not in. I don’t mind spiders and I will pick them up and place them outside, but some of these spiders had been well fed and were fairly big, and I mean big, so picking these ones up made me think twice before I did it, but out they had to go.
We spent the next few days working our way through the house room by room. We had met an English couple, Laura and Robin, who have been living in France for the last 14 years. They had known the previous owners and kept an eye on the house when they were in the area while it was empty and on the market for sale just to make sure everything was OK. They have become good friends over this last year and have given us a good insight into the French way of life, but that’s getting ahead of myself. As it was Christmas Day tomorrow Mrs K made it feel Christmassy by getting the small front area of the lounge decorated with some cards we had received. We were made to feel at home by the people we came across that lived the village. They were very polite and there was one lady who was very interested in our motorhome, as she had a camping car. She said her vehicle was smaller than ours, and she was very keen to have a look inside. With my limited French and her very complete lack of English we a had what turned out to be very good a conversation using sign language. I wish I had asked for her name but we just used gestures and hand signals. The local farmer Jean Marie Chateau who speaks extremely good English introduced himself to us, giving us an insight into the past history of our house and he has also, over the last year, become a good friend. We have met his parents Guy and Nicole and were invited to look around their bœuf farm. It is very early to make a true judgement, but we think it is going to be very nice living here. Time will tell.
The weather continued to be very wet and windy. A lot of Northern France were experiencing flooding and much of the local farmland and the gullys that run alongside the roads were like rivers. Many trees were blown over which caused road blockages. At St Gilles Vieux Marche, the next village across from St Mayeux, the river had burst its banks and some very unfortunate people were flooded out, causing no end of problems for them. Sleeping in the motorhome was like being in a washing machine. The wind roared down the valley and up the sides, and when it came into contact with the house and tree lined drive at around 4 am one morning, it hit the motorhome with all of its force. I thought we were going to get blown over so I suggested we go inside the house and have a cup of tea, but Mrs K was having none of that, saying, “If I go inside now you’ll never get me to sleep in here again until the weather gets better.” So we stayed where we were in bed and waited until the storm blew itself out. The next day was beautiful sunshine with very little wind, so we decided to remove a conifer tree that had become too big and was blocking the view from our kitchen window. It would not be until the summer that I removed the enormous root from the lawn.
There is a Angloinfo website used by ex-UK residents to discuss topics of interest and a classified area to advertise items for sale. I had seen a ride-on lawnmower for sale so had contacted the seller and agreed a deal subject to a viewing. Everything worked out well and he delivered it into the bargain. It’s in good condition with no rust, and all I needed was some dry weather so I could get out and cut the lawns, but with all the rain it would be spring before that happened.
We had water pouring out over the roof guttering at the back of the house and I thought that the guttering was probably blocked with leaves from the storms that we were experiencing. We had bought a small set of stepladders with us, but they would be of limited use unless we could raise them up a few feet. Moving the sturdy kitchen table out onto the patio solved the height issue, and with the steps on top of the table I could see that the guttering was not blocked at all. It was the downpipe that was the problem. Halfway down the pipe was a connector for a water butt, although it appeared no water butt had ever been fitted. I drilled a hole below this connector to see if this was the cause, and as no water came out of the hole it seemed the blockage was above this point. We made a quick visit to Point Vert for some new downpipe and a few connectors and we were ready to disconnect the pipe. What was to follow left us both covered in the most disgusting smell ever. As I disconnected the pipe from the guttering, this movement caused the coupling of the water butt connection to dislodge and a huge slug of decomposing material shot out from the pipe followed by all the stagnant water that had been above it. It covered us both from head to toe. What a stench! I can still smell it now writing this. We cleaned up as best as we could to enable us to carry on and I renewed the down pipe, which solved the overflow issue. We called it a day, and after a shower a some clean clothes Mrs K cooked us a wonderful meal. We had a good laugh about what had happened. The days were passing quickly and New Year’s eve was here. We had been invited to the village celebrations, but as we had Kindog with us and we didn’t want to leave her home alone, we were unable to attend. It would only be a few days before we would have to return to the UK because of work commitments. Our Christmas was over. We had cleaned the house ready to move our furniture and belongings over and it wouldn’t be long before we returned to our new home.
On the return journey to the UK from our 2013 adventure, all of our thoughts had turned to the French property we had seen. We decided that maybe we should consider putting our English home up for sale. As we pulled up outside of our house in the early hours of the morning we found that there were major roadworks taking place to replace mains water pipes right along the street. The lay-by directly outside of our property was fenced off and being used for storing the rubble and soil from the roadworks. I had left my work van parked in the lay-by and one of the workmen had asked a relative of ours who had access to our house if he could move the van so they could use the area for storage. The movement of the van was to lead to a series of problems.
In the meantime I parked the motorhome in the access road at the rear of our property for the night and would decide what to do in the morning. When I woke, I looked out of the bedroom window and could see that there was no room to park the motorhome in the lay-by. The previous motorhome that we owned fitted on the drive so we hadn’t had a parking problem, but this vehicle was longer by a few feet. Before we purchased our current motorhome we had spoken to our neighbours about using the lay-by for parking. They were very relaxed about it and saw no problem. I was told by our neighbours that the roadworks were scheduled to take about 10 weeks to complete, so we were going to have a major problem with the parking. We looked at the options and they were very limited. Parking on the roadside was out because of the length; leaving it in the access road was too risky as there was no road lighting; so finding somewhere to store it off-road really was the only realistic option. We began to look on the internet for local storage facilities and found three. Only one offered sheltered storage with CCTV monitoring, but access was limited and the price was over our budget. Storing the motorhome in an outside facility would mean buying a protective cover, and with the storage charges it meant that we would incur a fairly hefty bill but, as we were running out of options, a decision had to be made.
Discussing the problem in the kitchen over a coffee, I thought that as I needed to get some work done under the warrantee I would approach the dealers from whom we had bought the motorhome to see if they could help. After a short phone call they agreed to store it for us, which meant it would give us about 10 days to arrange a suitable storage facility, so we were extremely relieved to have found a solution.
The following day, as we had covered around a thousand miles on our holiday and the motorhome was filthy, I decided to give it a clean prior to taking it over to the dealer the following day. It was still parked in the access road right outside my garage/workshop, so the cleaning was not going to be much of a problem. I only need to extend the garden hose. While I was washing and rinsing, I had spent the time thinking about the problem we had had with parking since returning home and was feeling a bit cross with how things had turned out. I had almost finished, with just the roof to do. The access road has a bit of a camber to it, and I had to use a step ladder to get high enough up, with the hose laid across the roof. I pulled on the hose to make thing easier for myself, but it was trapped between the TV aeriel and the roof skylight. I pushed on the hose pipe to free it up, then I lightly pulled on it to give me another metre or so. Big mistake. There was no resistance, and suddenly I was falling off the step ladder. I put my right hand out to break my fall but my wrist collapsed with my weight as I came into contact with the concrete road. I screamed with the excrutiating pain. A little schoolgirl that had just passed came running back and asked “You all right mister?”. I was unable to reply as I was totally winded. All the loose change in my pockets had scattered on the ground as I fell and the little girl said, “I’ll pick your money up for you” as she put the coins back in my pocket. I got to my feet and looked at my hand. I looked at my hand and thought – and hoped – that it was just a bad sprain. I thanked the little girl for her help and kindness and she went on her way. I was covered in road grit and water from my fall. I put all of the cleaning equipment, garden hose and step ladder back into the garage, but when I look back and remember the state of my wrist, I’m not sure how I managed to do it. I shut the up-and-over garage door and got myself into the kitchen. I took another look at my right wrist and it didn’t look good. I phoned Mrs K to let her know what I had done. “I am on my way home ” she replied, but working in London I knew it would be a couple of hours before she got home. I knew I’d have to get to the hospital and was just going up the stairs to have a shower when my daughter let herself in the front door.
Seeing what I had done, she phoned her husband and by the time I had showered my son-in-law and grandson were waiting to take me to the local hospital’s accident and emergency department. Three hours later I had my wrist in plaster and was told that I would need an operation to put the damage right. They couldn’t do it that day, so the nurse made an appointment for me to return in three days’ time. I returned home in relief that I was out of the hospital. I’ve never spent any time in hospital, let alone had an operation. I was told that I had broken my wrist in four places but until the swelling around the breaks had subsided there wasn’t a lot that they could do. When I returned home Mrs K had me laid horizontal and was looking after me even more than she usually does. I got very little sleep that night as the pain was intense. As soon as it became light I said I would have to go back to the hospital because the plaster cast felt too tight and the pain was increasing, so I felt it needed to be checked out. The receptionist at the hospital was very unhelpful and, I felt, in desperate need for her to go on a training course to learn empathy. Much to my wife’s dismay I expressed that need to her as I left the hospital some hours later. It turned out that in the fall I had broken my radial bone in 3 places and the ulna in one place. One of the radial breaks was unstable because it also had a split travelling up the bone, as my wrist had taken all of the impact when I fell, and it had got worse overnight.
After I had some more X-rays taken I saw an Army Surgeon, Commander Hobbs, and he explained that I would have to wait around three weeks before I could have the operation, He said that I needed to be patient because of the severity of the break. Commander Hobbs informed me that my injury was “career changing” and that I would need to reappraise my life. But until he operated on the wrist he would not know the final prognosis. A nurse reset my wrist into a new plaster cast and we returned home. After about ten minutes I realised Mrs K was nowhere to be seen and wondered where she’d got to. About twenty minutes later she returned and said, “Well, that has got that sorted”. She was so angry about what had happened that she had gone to see the foreman in charge of the road works and asked him if there was any way that he could move the rubble and soil so that we could park the motorhome outside of our house. He’d replied, “Yes, that’s no problem. Give me half an hour and I will have it all moved for you.” So within the hour we had the motorhome parked up and safe outside our property once again.
I am a self employed trader with no employees. Before we went on our adventure I had completed a major modernisation of a property and I had given myself an extra “free” week after our return to the UK before starting my next job. It was obvious I was going to be out of action, at least for the foreseeable future, so I contacted the customer and explained what had happened. I said I would understand if they wanted to arrange for another contractor to do the work they required, but they said I’d been recommended by another customer and were prepared to wait and see if I recovered enough to do the job. Three weeks later commander Hobbs operated on my wrist. The operation was a success but I had to have plates and pins inserted to support my wrist. The injury was so severe it meant that any thought about me continuing with property maintenance was out of the question. It would take at least eighteen months if not longer for the wrist to repair itself. It was a month after the operation before the cast could come off and physiotherapy could begin. At the time of the accident I was two and a half years away from retirement.
The situation we now found ourselves in was a terrific shock. Everything had been ticking over nicely. We were both working and had a very nice home with all the comforts. Now suddenly we had lost half of our income and things had to change drastically. What were we going to do? One option would be to bring forward our plans about retiring and moving to France. We looked at what would be involved in doing this and how it would affect our family. But taking other peoples feelings into account was not going to solve our problems, so after many long late nights of talking and agonising over the situation, we contacted an estate agent and put our property on the housing market. As our property was in very good condition it wasn’t long before we had an offer from a couple to buy it, so the wheels swung into action and everything progressed smoothly. With a survey on our property carried out and a provisional completion date set, we arranged to go and have a detailed inspection of the French property, with the expectation of putting in an offer if the inspection went well and no serious problems were found.
The French system of buying and selling a property is completely different to the English way. It is not unusual for the agent (or immobilier) to act for both parties, the vendor and the purchaser. Basically, when the purchaser makes an offer on a French property, and that offer is accepted by the vendor, a contract (Compromis de Vente) is drawn up by the immobilier, with both the vendor agreeing to sell to the purchaser, and the purchaser agreeing to buy from the vendor at the agreed price. If either party breaks that contract, then the party that makes the break are liable and will have to pay compensation to the other party. Various clauses are added to the contract and agreed to by both parties, and it is not unusual for the purchaser to have to pay the immobilier’s fee – unlike in the UK as well as the Notary’s fees and all the taxes. When the Compromis is signed by both vendor and purchaser, a deposit (usually 10%) is paid by the purchaser within ten days of signing and is held by the registered immobilier and a provisional completion date set.
We had already signed the contract regarding the sale of our property prior to going to France for our second inspection of the house, so after the successful second viewing of the French property we made an offer to buy, with a clause inserted stating that it was subject to us ” selling our home” in the UK. We wanted to postpone signing the Compromis De Vente untilwe had confirmation that contracts had been exchanged on our sale, which was due within the next few days. We travelled on to La Rochelle and then onto Bordeaux, staying a few days at each place. We were to travel back up to Nantes prior to returning to Corlay to sign the Comproms de Vente. At Nantes we received a call from our estate agent in the UK, expecting to be told that contracts had been exchanged. Bad news. Our buyer had pulled out on the day of exchange, but the estate agent had received another offer. The new offer was financially not quite as good, but at least it was an offer, and he was a cash buyer, so everything could be completed as quick as the solicitors could process the formalities. We had to absorb the financial loss as we had already commited ourselves to the French purchase and we wanted the house, so it was swings and roundabouts. We called into the immobilier and signed the Compromis De Vente and returned to England. A week later we paid the required deposit to the immobilier. The sale of our house did not go exactly to plan but eventually it completed and in December 2013 we became the new owners of what we think is a beautiful home in France.
Our lives are about to change, summer 2013 would become, unknown to us at the time, a “life changing summer”. At the start of our adventure we were going to explore the North West coast of France, but the weather forecast was disappointing, with rain and a low pressure predicted for the area lasting around a week. I had a route planned that would take us along the North West coast and down to La Rochelle, with campsites provisionally pencilled in. Having to change the travel plans we had looked forward to was disappointing, but we thought we could always do that part of France another time.
Off we set for Central France. As we’d had a very nice experience staying at Beaugency the year before, I entered the GPS co-ordinates into the SatNav and away we went, expecting an improvement in the weather the further the south we travelled. This didn’t happen; in fact it deteriorated. We arrived at Beaugency around 4 pm and pulled into the campsite alongside the Loire river. I booked in at reception for two nights and then pulled round to where we had pitched before, only to find the grass extremely tall, coming up to the door opening of the motorhome. It was early into the summer season and the campsite looked very unkempt, but we were here. I had a look around and saw an area in much better condition, so we moved onto it. I tested the electrical supply and found that it had reversed polarity. When I contacted the guy in reception he was adamant that there was no problem and that I was the problem, so not a good start. He came over with an electric drill in his hand, plugged it in and, waving it above his head, turned it on, shouting “VOILA!” as if the French had won “The Battle of Agincourt“. (The French electrical supply is wired in double pole, meaning that both the Phase (our live) and the neutral supply is switched on and off at the same time. We only switch the live on and off.) I tried to show him that the the poles were reversed and they would cause a problem to a single pole motorhome, but he was having a French moment, being quite aggressive and negative and not wanting to listen or try to understand. We have been coming to France for a few years and this was my first experience of a French person being totally unapproachable. He walked off waving the drill in the air and mumbling to himself. I decided to try other supplies until I found one that was wired correctly for us. This might have saved the Entente Cordiale agreement between the UK and France.
The whole campsite seemed to have changed; it was very tatty in its appearance. As I walked over to the wash rooms/showers I suddenly realised they had cut down about an acre of trees which had previously provided a shaded area to walk through. The trees hadn’t been tightly planted but had been very tall and given a very nice dappled light. I was very impressed with the campsite on our first visit and had told a lot of people about it on our return home. On our second visit I found it very disappointing, with the shower blocks in need of refurbishment and a very good clean. The whole campsite has been left to deteriorate, so I would advise anyone considering staying there to think again, although Beaugency Town itself and the Bridge over the Loire and the area around is well worth seeing. We only stayed the one night and decided we would move on, so we set out for Néris-les-Bains.
It wouldn’t be long before we were into sunshine and our spirits lifted. It was only a four and a half hour drive, so with a short break for a coffee we were soon at camping Municipal du Lac. The site is set just on the edge of the town; the pitches are a bit tightly packed and some are awkward to manoeuvre into if you have a large motorhome, but a smashing campsite and immaculately kept municipal gardens. Our stay here was very restful and our summer adventure had begun. We walked into the town for a couple of beers and to people watch, one of our favourite pastimes. The fire brigade was celebrating its 150 years of protecting the town from fires, and a lot of old fire tenders were on show. The culmination of the weekend was a parade around the town and a church service. There is a very impressive Opera House which has the gardens alongside. We spent the weekend at Néris-les-Bains and on the Monday morning we woke to sunshine so we thought we would head west to Mézières-en-Brenne, Indre, Val de Loire this would take around a two hour drive so we could be there by early lunch time. It was only 160 km away but within a short time the temperature had dropped and we were in torrential rain. It never stopped raining and we stayed just the one night. The area looked very nice but we didn’t fancy getting soaked, so the following morning we headed for Cournon-d’Auvergne on they way down to the Ardèche, staying at Tain-l’Hermitage. As we travelled to Cournon, where we had also stayed the year before, we approached Clermont Ferrand from a different direction than we had on previous occasions. What a sight it was. I think we were on the D941 but I am not absolutely sure. We turned a bend and, stretched out in front of us, was Clermont Ferrand and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption. What a sight! I had read about the speech Pope Urban II had given for the First Crusaders in the Cathedral, and there it was in all its glory.
We were very lucky that day, everything was just so relaxing. We had a nice lunchtime drink in the campsite restaurant and a very pleasant stroll around the large lake. We also met a Scottish couple on their European holiday who had travelled down to Greece and were now heading in no particular direction but going to spend the winter in Spain. During our stay at Cournon I spent about an hour or so photographing a Red Breasted Fly Catcher. We were sitting out in the early evening when I suddenly realised I was getting bitten by mosquitoes around my ankles. I had about five bites and did they itch! Mrs K had also been eaten alive. We had treatments for mosquito bites on board, but they were not very effective. We spent the next few days dabbing our ankles with the bite pens, and we didn’t get much sleep with all that scratching going on.
We were now going to head for Tain-l’Hermitage about a three and a bit hour drive away but, as usual, no rush. The route would take us through Issoire then onto Brioude where we stopped on the outskirts for a coffee. We have some friends who had told us about Le Puy En Valay and that if we were ever near it to stop and have a look.
The next main town/large village we came across was Le Puy, and what a sight. I find that wherever you go in France there is outstanding scenery. We came across it so unexpectedly that it took us by surprise. We were in a long queue of traffic so it was very difficult to stop or pull over because so many other people had the same idea, so I said to Mrs K we will definitely stop on our way back and have a good look, but what a setting and scenery. We travelled on to Tain-l’Hermitage, we were not prepared for what happened next.
In the Autumn 2012 Spring 2013, On returning from their Euro adventure the Kindogs set out on some autumn long weekends along the Jurassic coast of Dorset. On our first weekend away we stayed at the Caravan Club site “The Crossways” at Moreton, Dorchester, Dorset. The site is set in woodland and the pitches are mainly grass. The site is unusual in the fact it has dry composting toilets. They take a bit of getting used to if you haven’t used this type of toilet before. We arrived on site early Thursday evening and had booked to stay until the Sunday. We pulled off to the right hand side of one of the site roads into a nice little grassed area of three pitches, one already occupied by a family of four. As our motorhome was new it drew a fair bit of attention, as it was a Bailey. Bailey had only just moved into the motorhome range in 2012, so Bailey caravan owners were quite interested to see the layout. After a few inspections we got settled for the evening. The following morning we woke to an overcast day, misty and damp, but at this time of year you have to expect it, and it soon cleared, the sun came out and so we had a look around the site, which was very well looked after by the wardens with some very good amenities.
We visited the local pub for a late afternoon snack and drink, returning early evening to the motorhome. The family that were on the same pitching area were having a barbecue. After an hour or so Mrs K started getting dinner ready and I got talking to the man of the family. I found that he was also interested in birds and had some feed balls set out near his caravan, and as the conversation about birds progressed I showed him some images I had taken. Mrs K asked if we would like a drink, to which offer I replied “Yes please!”. So we both had a drink and continued our conversation about birds, while the evening moved on and became quite dark. The man seemed quite settled in, and Mrs K asked if he would like another drink, which he seemed to think was a very good idea. I was a bit concerned as we had been talking for quite some time and his wife was left alone with their children. I suggested that he might like to ask his wife to join us, but he said it was okay and not to worry. After about another half an hour he had finished his drink and looked a bit worse for wear. He said good night to us and returned to his caravan.
When we got up the next morning, the family were getting ready to pack up and leave. The woman and I made eye contact and I got her message. I think I got the blame for the previous evening as it looked like there had been a domestic and the man was getting quite a hard time from his wife. We kept out of the way and stayed inside our motorhome while they packed up and left. As they only had a short journey home from the camp-site we hoped they had a safe drive home.
As the day move towards lunch time I suggested we had a pub lunch. Mrs K agreed but wanted a walk before going for lunch, so off we went. As we went down the road we saw another caravan site, The Camping and Caravanning Club, so we had a good look around and I was very impressed with the overall presentation. It had all you could need with a selection of grass and of hard standings. Both camp-sites are very near to Moreton train station, and there is a very good pub close to the station the “Frampton Arms”, which we went straight to after the inspection of the camp site.
After a light meal we left to return to the motorhome. The weather turned and it started to rain and when we got back to the site the grass pitch was quite wet. The rain got harder and we became really concerned,as if it continued to rain overnight the pitch would be very boggy, so we decided to return home that evening. Once everything was packed away I tried to reverse off the levelling blocks, but the blocks had become bedded in the grass and as I moved off of them they almost disappeared into the soil, As soon as the front wheels came into contact with the grass I was in trouble, no grip, just mud sprayed everywhere as the ground was very wet. We were very grateful to the other caravan owners for their help, as within a few moments there was people helping us to get the motorhome out of the mud and onto the road. We left our imprint with two very long wheel tracks at the site, but I think had we stayed the night we would have needed a tow to get us out.
The horrifying sound of brickwork crashing to the ground at 2:00 am was not the start we had planned for our July / August holiday. Jumping out of our new motor home I ran round to the back of the van, to see our drive wall laying on the pavement. Realization hit me harder than anything I have experienced. The motor home!! What had I done? Turning round in disbelief to see what damage (anguish, shock, anger – nothing words can describe). I had checked and thought l was clear before turning right to park it in the lay-by at the front of our house prior to putting my work van on the drive. The rear nearside back had clipped the wall pillar to the driveway. The moulded rear light cluster was hanging there, a big crack in it. The wraparound corner was on the drive. As I sank to my knees, Mrs Kindogs voice entered my shattered brain: “Why didn’t you wait for me?” I had allowed two hours for any mishaps on our journey to Ashford for our tunnel crossing at 6:10 am. Mrs Kindog said “It’s all fixable. What are we going to do about the brick work?” A double skinned wall with a pillar a metre in length lay there. A sack truck and 30minutes later all was stowed neatly on the drive, some clear 3M all-weather 50mm wide tape had the rear light cluster in position and all working tickerty- boo. If I ever see that bricky again! Cheap mix thankfully or more damage would have been inflicted and there may have been no Euro adventure.
We are on our way, my brain completely scrambled. How I drove to Ashford arriving on time is down to Mrs Kindog and her complete unflappable temperament. “We’ve got insurance. That’s what it’s for. We’ll get it fixed when we are back home. Now let’s go and enjoy our holiday.” Texts sent to relatives on arrival at the Euro crossing to say “We will explain about the wall when we are back”.
Sat –nav co-ordinates set, we opted to miss the toll roads and go for the scenic journey. We are on our way to Beaugency, just south west of Orleans. The drive down through the beautiful French countryside is stunning. We pulled over after about 2 hrs of driving to have a cup of tea and a salad roll. The events of the previous night were now coming into focus and the rationalization process kicking in. Damage is done; get it put right and move on: “Always look on the bright side of life”!
With about a 4 hours drive, wonderful weather and the full expectation of a happy adventure we moved off. A short break for lunch and we arrived at Beaugency. Pulling straight into the Aire there were plenty of spaces, the view of the arched bridge and river is a landscape artist’s dream. There is enough room for about 25 Motor homes.
It has all the facilities for topping up and depositing of the wastes with electrical hook-ups (all main credit cards accepted) if required. There is a standby water tap at the rear of the toilets on the left hand side of the block, with nothing to pay.
The GPS co-ordinance for the Aire at Beaugency GPS N 47.77639° E1.64278°
The walk down along the river is worth it, with a good selection of wildlife. Watching the Sand Martins swoop down skimming the surface to feed on the hover flies was something I really enjoyed.
There were Mistle Thrushes feeding in the ankle high grass with rabbits running around, quite a lot of wild fowl in the distance on the opposite shore, where there is a very nice looking campsite, if that is what you prefer.
From our perspective Beaugency is a very beautiful place. The town has everything you could require, although we did not explore it ourselves as we were very tired from the early start we had made.
On to Cournon D’ Auvergne. ( GPS N 45° 44.397’ E 3° 13.366’ ) We left Beaugency around 10:00 in the morning avoiding the toll roads, travelling through Vierzon, skirting round Bourges, then on down to Montlucon, stopping a few times to have a break and enjoying the superb countryside.
Sitting looking out at the view, drinking a cup of freshly ground coffee, has got to be one of the most enjoyable things in life. The weather was very warm with clear blue skies, the traffic on the back roads is very light and life seems to be unhurried. There is very little litter anywhere, which makes a big difference and brings home just why the French are so proud of their country.
We moved on slowly, winding our way on to Cournon d’Auvergne arriving at about 5:20. The aire is on the small side but can still take around 18 Motor homes and has electrical connections and the facilities for disposal of waste. It has a Flot Bleu token machine.
Cournon d’Auvergne We decided to use the campsite and ended up staying two nights. It’s very well laid out and reasonably priced with lots of entertainment, if you have children of any age. The washing facilities are okay but could do with a clean and a lick of paint. There is a shop and restaurant although we never used either. Bread can be purchased each morning from the restaurant but you have to put in an order the day before.
Topping up with water and disposing of the waste is straightforward and is to be found at the rear of the sanitation block not far from the reception. Electrical hook-ups will require at the most a 25 metre length of cable as the power supply is to the side of the U-shaped camping areas. There is a good sized lake and picnic area where you can have a lovely stroll around, and if you have a dog it is a good exercise area.
I was impressed with the campsite and with the people in reception who spoke a number of languages. There is also Wifi available at 2 Euros a day.
Moving on south to Carcassonne we travelled through some of the most scenic of the French country side, the departments of Limousin, Auvergne. The route we chose took us through Issoire, Saint Flour and Saint-Chely-d’Apcher which then lead us on to Millau.
Having driven over the British designed bridge the previous year, we came off and went through Millau, stopping to admire the bridge and panoramic view of the town, which I think is quite stunning.
Seeing it as you drive in is even more remarkable. We chose to stay at Camping De La Cite, GPS N43° 12.00’ E 2° 21.234’, which is expensive for what you get. It is very clean and quiet, but I suppose you are paying for the location.
We visited the city but I was unimpressed with the tourist tat that was for sale everywhere. The restaurants were expensive, but if you want to eat out in the surroundings of a medieval city that’s the price you must be prepared to pay. The city was a 15 minute walk from the campsite and the climb up to it is fairly steep, so ladies be warned – high heels are not a good idea. We returned to the campsite and had a great meal cooked by Mrs K washed down with a good drink. Overall I am glad we visited Carcassonne. It has a lot of history and is well worth a visit.
On to Spain. We have avoided the toll roads not for the cost, but to see France non motorway style. We set off knowing we had a long drive to Mrs K’s sister and brother in-law’s villa in Cumbre Del Sol but we were in no hurry and if it took us another day, that was fine, we would pull over and rest up. We headed off not really knowing what was ahead. Absolutely stunning views were all around and as we got onto the D118 the Sat-Nav said to stay on this road for 34 km. The mountain road started to get a bit narrow and very winding. The further we travelled along the D118, we realised it was getting even more narrow and pretty soon we would be unable to turn around. Onwards and upwards is the only way, and at times it became quite scary because of the speed of the oncoming traffic. The overhangs and bends mean you have to be prepared to stop immediately. We still had something like 25 km to go and at the speed we were going, it would take us forever. We entered a part of the road that would only allow one vehicle at a time through, and fortunately we had right of way. There was no way back, so we thought “lets go for it”. We got almost to the part of the road where the traffic could pass each other, when we were face to face with another motor home. Both drivers looked at each other with the same thought, but luck was on our side, and unknown to us they had only just entered this narrow section. They put their vehicle into reverse and moved to one side and we were through. We were so relieved, and just around the next bend was a picnic area where we had a much needed rest. There is a quarry that’s mined on this road so locals are aware, but tourists need to take care when travelling on this road. But please do not be put off as the reward at the end is breath-taking. This area is very popular with skiers. We travelled on towards the border with Spain, passing close to Andorra and on to Balaguer , down to Lleida then on to Reus. We then decided that the motorway would be our best option, with a 4 hour direct run we could arrive at our destination Cumbre Del Sol. It would be a long run but travelling in the twilight and into the night the traffic would be light. We would have to pay for the tolls but as this totalled less than 34 Euro we decided the end justified the means. We arrived just after midnight to a very warm welcome. The 5 day journey had been very enjoyable and we had learnt how to stow and use our new motor home and were no longer novices. We weren’t quite hardened travellers but we had learned a lot in just those few days. The decision we made last year about purchasing a good quality motor home was and is the right one.
Destination Cumbre Del Sol
Continued : Saturday 4th August.
After a stay of 5 days we left Benitachell on the Costa Del Sol quite early as we wanted to get across the border into Spain before it got dark. Our stay in Spain was very good. Mrs K’s sister and brother in law made us very welcome and the sun shone all day every day. Mr’s K great-nephews were staying with there grandparents so it was fun as they are great boys with a good sense of humour and sibling rivalry. The drive would take about 10 hours, with a few stops in between to allow Kinnie to do the business and a break for us. It’s a long run to the French border avoiding the roads. Our TomTom started to play up whenever it found a quicker route, and wanted to get us to take the toll roads. We solved this problem by shouting “NO” at it whenever asked. This became more and more funny as it seemed to me she was the only woman that appeared to take any notice when told “ NO” – but I wasn’t going to go there as there was only one outcome.
Our journey to France was probably more than we should have taken on with the heat, but we wanted to get back into France so that we could take our time and enjoy the remainder of our holiday, exploring the back roads and villages. We headed for Ax-Les-Thermes which is steeped in Cathar history. On the way we travelled through Andorra which we were meant to miss and skirt around. Somehow the TomTom suddenly switched itself off and by the time I got it going again we were going across the Spain/Andorra border. It was not long before we were going across the French border, climbing the steep mountain pass with its ski runs and chalets dotted around. Mr’s K remarked that it was the first time she had driven through clouds. The climb was a struggle for some of the motor homes going the same way, but well worth it when you reach the top. We then started to descend and pulled into the ski resort of Soldeu. It must be one of the finest places to go skiing if you can get there in the winter. It has a large car park where you can pull over and stay the night, for a small fee, you obtain a ticket at the barrier and pay on exit, but we were heading for Ascou and a campsite I had seen on Google search, which turned out to be not as good as represented. The time was getting on and it would be dark in an hour’s time, so we turned around and headed back to Ax-Les-Thermes, a lovely village which must be a skier’s dream in winter, if you can get access to it.
I had looked at an aire, entered the GPS co-ordinates and away we went, but when we arrived about 15 minutes later nothing that could resemble an aire could be found. I suggested we continued on up the pass, as it might be higher up, but it wasn’t, so we turned around and started our descent. The light was fading fast and the road narrowed in some places making some of the 180 degree turns very tight. We were approaching one of the turns when we spotted a bull, which I can only describe as enormous, with a head and horns that could do some serious damage. As we got closer we feared that we were entering his territory, which scared us both, but as it worked out he just watched as we swung past him. So it was on down to the main road, where we turned left and looked for somewhere to park.
I have read that it is unwise to wild camp, but as there was not a lot else we could do I pulled into a fairly large lay by and we spent our first night in the wilds.
It was, as it turned out, a good place to spend the night without any mishaps, but we think that aires or campsites will be found before night falls in the future. We woke to a beautiful setting with a castle ruin high up on the top of a nearby mountain side with a river running alongside the road. We really appreciated the amenities that the motor home offered us, soon we were showered and after a nice cup of tea we had everything stowed and we were on our way, 9:30 am is an early start for the Kindogs.
We set off for a place called Souillac which would take us about 4 ½ hours a nice little hop, avoiding the tolls and passing through some quaint villages that time seems to have left behind, you see France at rest on a Sunday and it brings home how a week should start, we don’t seem to know when the week ends and the next one starts with most shops open seven days a week, with the shops shut here you need to make sure you have enough supplies, even though it’s only one day where things are unavailable. We headed up towards Toulouse passing through Foix, St Sulpice-sur- Leze. We were talking about how most of France take Sundays off when Mrs K spotted a Patisserie open as we were approaching traffic lights. I quickly pulled into a lay by and she jumped out in excitement at the prospect of fresh bread and what later when we stopped for the day turned out to be chocolate éclairs which were topped with chocolate and filled with chocolate creme. The little village of St Jory was very busy and the Patisserie (named Stephan’s) had a lovely display of cakes and pastries. We headed on towards Montauban and towards Limoges, and as we approached Cahors we decided to look for somewhere to stop. It was not long after leaving Cahors that we found a little campsite, which was just off of the N20/D820, a place called Quercy Vacances, a little site run by Ange’lique and Jean Paul Pradeaux, it’s very well run with, electrical hook up, WiFi, a small swimming pool, shower and toilet block and a bar with entertainment.
Not long after arriving there was a short thunderstorm which lasted about 15 minutes and gave us a superb rainbow. Mrs Kindog soon had a very nice meal prepared and on the table, and washed down with a good drink. After a really good nights sleep we topped up with water and disposed of the waste. Quercy is well maintained and reasonably priced and the area around is well worth a visit. I had already wound the awning out before the short thunderstorm started so I had to spend about half an hour drying it out before we could wind it back in and get underway. The Belgian and French people around gave me some strange looks as I attached some kitchen roll around the squeegee mop that Mrs K had bought me in Spain for just this sort of occasion. I must say it might have looked strange but it was very affective, even though I used most of the roll drying it out. We were soon on our way and had decided that as we were so impressed by Beaugency we would head in that direction and stay wherever we felt we would like to pull over and spend the night, whether it was an Aire or a campsite. We decided that we would only drive for around four hours or so before stopping for the day. Travelling through the French country side on the back roads is wonderful experience which I would recommend it to anyone. We continued on the D820 and after a while we pulled over at an Aire Du Belvedere where you can stay the night but there are no amenities. The view overlooks a valley of the Dordogne. We stayed for a drink and some food, and Kinnie made friends with a half relative of hers, another Westie.
As we have travelled through rural France there appears to be a lack of people. The villages are spaced around but you don’t seem to see many people or much going on. It’s very clean as I have mentioned before, but overall I have been struck by the lack of much happening. France is a very productive country, but it’s probably because it’s a large country in comparison to the UK and that the people are dispersed over a greater area. The roads are in a better condition, even on the country lanes which makes driving much more enjoyable. We drove on for about two hours and started to look for a place to pull over and stop for the day. We passed through a small village that was so pretty Mrs K said she could quite easily live there. All the houses were so well looked after and their gardens so well maintained with flowers and shrubs of all colours, it really was so pretty. Unfortunately we were looking at the view and not looking at the name of the village.
We talked about the village when we next stopped at Treignac. It has an Aire just outside the village GPS N 45° 32.608’ W 1° 47.949’ with facilities for washing and disposal of waste. There is room for lots of motor homes and it has a river that runs at the bottom. It was about two in the afternoon when we stopped so we had a choice of how close to the river we wanted to be. The ground was fairly flat and there was no need for the levellers.
As the afternoon passed away the bird life around the river became more active. With a good amount of insects to feed on they paid very little attention to the activities of us motor homers. I spent a wonderful afternoon and evening taking photographs of beautiful birds in the most pleasant of surroundings.
As the evening approached the aire started to fill up and there must of been close to forty motor homes neatly arranged in rows, all with there personal space, some with awnings out which with the amount of room available did not cause a problem, most people were sat out with tables a chairs arranged close by with there pets enjoying the early evening sunshine. A Belgian motor home pulled up and slotted in between two other homers, personal space not being one of his concerns, with the room available he could have parked anywhere, soon he had erected a satellite dish that Marconi would have been proud of, his wife was moving the dish to his instructions but, not quite to his wishes, the programme or programmes that seemed so important to him, that he had to have the perfect reception was causing a bit of a domestic, with his dish aligned as best as his wife could get he disappeared into his motor home, the atmosphere at the aire change dramatically from what was a perfect evening into a fraught tense atmosphere the Marconi satellite dish gave off such an ear piercing scream that within five minutes virtually everybody had retreated to the sanctuary of there motor home to escape the horrendous high pitched scream. People were walking around trying to figure out where the source was emanating from, once they had located it stood mumbling about what to do, I personally thought that as we are in France that Le Guillotine would have been the most appropriate solution to the problem, first the cable then the Belgian. Problem solved but as l was not elected, he and the dish survived. The aire was cleared of all outside activities.
I still think that the Le Guillotine was the solution. After about two hours l ventured outside and either some one had cut the cable, or his leisure battery had run out, or his wife had taken things into her own hands. As to everybody around silence had become golden, relief, the evening had moved on and the sun was going down but tranquillity had returned.
We had parked close to the river a beautiful setting, but with all thing there’s a down side the sun had set behind us which meant the it would rise in front of us, the rive bank was lined with trees. When we woke the home was in the shade and even with the sky lights open the motor home had a lot of condensation on the windows, we had not experienced this before, so l soon realised a bit of thought needs to go into where you park, not just a stunning spot with hidden draw backs, still another lesson learnt. We woke early and soon got on the move, I had looked at an aire at St Almand Motrond located alongside a canal it was a four hour drive which fitted into our plan. To move up through France slowly on our way back to the Euro tunnel crossing at Sangatte. It was another beautiful day, sticking to the back roads and crossing the Plateau De Millevaches would put about an hour onto the journey but it was bound to be picturesque. It turned out to be an interesting choice, quite wooded in areas and open in others, we passed a wood mill which was isolated but very active with a lot of cars and lorries around the main mill area. So l thought the roads around must be fairly well used, we had been on the road for about an hour and a half so we stopped for our morning drink, just after we had passed some major road works at a tee junction in a little village. On our next adventure l will note down the places we stop at so l have a reference which will allow me to name these lovely villages.
Soon we were well on our way to St Almand Motrond, passing through a small village we saw a notice saying Entre Ferme, l continued on and came to a point where l had to turn around, the SatNav telling me to do a U turn as soon as possible, did not help. I thought that there must be a way round the closure, so took the next right turn, which led on to some very narrow roads, the locals that use these roads do not expect to meet a motor home coming in the opposite direction or to be on them in any direction. I drove very cautiously after meeting a local travelling at quite a speed, I am not sure if he was as scared as I was when he came round a bend at speed, still we missed each other and no damage was done, the area seemed to be made up of small holding all producing farm produce. We spent the next hour winding our way north, east, then north and east again until I met a woman coming in the opposite direction with no intention of stopping or moving over one millimetre. I stopped and just hoped she miss me, as she passed us I remarked that you would not like to get into an argument with her, she was a big women with a very hard look to her. Finally we managed to get back onto the right road and St Amand Motrond was not far off.
We pulled up along side the canal glorious sunshine two other motor homers already set out, with Barn Swallow flying up and down the canal it was a good choice.
The afternoon slowly faded into the evening. St Amand Montrond has a good cafe restaurant area set off to the right hand side of the town if you are travelling north with a we chose a nice cafe / restaurant to stop and have a few drinks in, we started to people watch and take in the early evening change from work life to socialising with friends. The town seems very active, it has a wide selection of shops with a market town feel to it. With a slow walk through shop lined streets we made our way back to the canal. The house martins were still as active and a few more motor homes had pulled up long side the canal. GPS N46° 43.097’ E 2° 30.242’ the aire has water and a disposal point for the waste, no electrical hookup.
In the morning we set out for Beaugency our final stop before heading home, we had planned to leave France on the Saturday morning crossing, which would give us two days a Beaugency. With a visit to the vets for Kindog and her tapeworm treatment. Mrs K had been telling me to make an appointment at a vet, I was confidant that this could be arranged giving Kindog the necessary time slot needed to meet the immigration requirements. I was wrong the earliest appointment I could get was for the Friday at four in the afternoon not enough time for the tapeworm treatment to be effective. Rearranging the Euro booking cost £83.00 which I think is financial sting by the operators, but it was my fault so I can’t really complain. The up side was another day at Beaugency.
We book into the campsite opposite the aire we stayed in, on our first night in France. I can highly recommend the site, it is excellent value for money, well laid out, good clean showers and toilets, water taps at most pitches, electrical hook-ups and with a shop and bar with WiFi for 2Euros a day. Stunning views of the Loir river and historic bridge.
On Wednesday we booked into the campsite opposite the aire where we had stayed on our first night in France. I can highly recommend the site as it is excellent value for money, well laid out, with good clean showers and toilets, water taps at most pitches, electrical hook-ups and with a shop and bar with WiFi for 2Euros a day. Stunning views of the Loire river and Beaugency historic bridge.
Initially we were only going to stay for two nights, leaving on the Friday but as I had got the vet appointment wrong we stayed another day. The bird life around the Loire is quite diverse. With the river having high sandy banks on one side the sand martins have the perfect habitat, and where the river gets diverted by rocks that have not been eroded away , islands have formed and it’s perfect for wildfowl. The area that the campsite is on has a lot of trees which give shade to the campers and is home to the Tits, Finches, Tree creepers, Blackbirds, Thrushes and Nut Hatches. Near to where we were pitched was a Birch tree that had cracks in its trunk. I was sitting enjoying the view when I saw a bird quickly run down the tree and in a flash it was gone. I got my camera out and waited. After a while it reappeared but by the time I focused on it, it had gone again. This went on for the next day and I was unable to get a clear photograph of it which was in focus or was good enough to be of any use. A tree creeper also visited the same tree but was far too fast for me to get a good picture. Mrs K makes allowances for the time I spend trying to capture pictures of birds. I was determined to get a picture of this Nut Hatch. I thought it had young around because of the frequent visits it was making to the tree.
We had some walnuts in the van, so I crushed up the walnuts and pushed them into the crack in the bark and waited. For the first time in a day and a half the Nut Hatch was still enough to get a series of photographs. What a wonderful feeling I had when I looked at them on the laptop. I also managed to get a photograph of its fledgling chick, that the adult was so busy feeding.
Next day we spent the morning having a good look round the town of Beaugency with its church and museum. The town has a lot of history that goes back to the medieval period. There is an area towards the top of the town that opens up into the main square where there are shops that sell food and drink.
The side streets all lead to the main square.
The area adjacent to the Aire is used for the towns entertainment and can be quite noisy, if there is a live musical event being held.
In the afternoon we had to take Kindog to the vet for her tapeworm treatment, which went really well and if anybody travelling back to the UK and requires a vet in Beaugency I can recommend :
Name : Dr Sylvain, Dr Isabelle Petrus, Dr Julie Gomel.
Address : 2 Rue Des Grattelie’vres. 45190 Tavers. Beaugency. WWW.vetobeaugency.fr
On our way back to the camp site we stopped off and got some supplies, as it was going to be our last night in France. Mrs K cooked a wonderful meal and we sat out late into the evening, enjoying the warm summer night. Our holiday was over far too quickly. The adventure that had started off with an almighty bang had turned into the most fabulous holiday. We set off from Gosport with high hopes and a lot of expectations, not knowing how we would cope with the motor home. We certainly had fun learning and that’s got to be experienced to be able to understand what I mean. When I say fun, life on the road in France (in our opinion) has got to be the best way to spend your leisure time. We have had the most wonderful time touring France, and Kindog herself has had a great time.
Unfortunately it is the end of this adventure, with just the return journey to be undertaken. The next Euro Adventure is in the planning stages already.
All the um-ing and ah-ing is over. We have bought the “Granvan” a Toyota Granvia. It has an automatic gearbox, sleeps the two us and our dog (the dog will (probably) get the best seat in the van). The van was previously owned by “Pusser and the long suffering Mrs Pusser”. They were reluctant to see the Granvan go……Having read “Pussers Progress” I got Mrs Kindog to perform the unenviable task of checking the PortaPotty, all OK, still sealed. Phew! We know Mr Pusser’s penchant for toilets and all things pertaining thereto.
We have got to have a real christening, our first cooked meal, first night in the wild. Well, we have visited a huge amount of internet web sites and shops to kit out the Granvan, and she now has a kettle – the most important item – and an array of pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, plastic storage boxes of every size and description but, alas, not one bottle of JD in sight. (YET). Fortunately Mrs Kindog is teetotal, so all you fellow motorhomers will be safe on the road. [Can’t afford to write anything about Mrs K’s driving otherwise I may not be mobile for a few days (at least).] Getting back to the first trip, do we stay local….or risk a venture to somewhere a little more daring. The thought of our first trip is …well exciting…nervy…it’s got to happen. I can see it now…we’ll get there and it’ll be ”I thought you put that on board “. I have already agreed, according to Mrs K, that it’s my responsibility to check everything and yes, if anything is forgotten it is my fault….(because, as always, if anything goes wrong it’s always the bloke’s fault). I can see it now….Mrs K will be navigating, and it’ll be “you should have turned left there – or you can carry straight on” just as we whizz past the turning! (I should explain, these were the directions I was given on one similar occasion… say no more. Thank heaven for SatNav.) We will update this tale as soon as we decide (i.e. Mrs K decides) to give the go ahead, on my decision as to the destination of our first adventure The all important test runWe have been looking forward to this equipment test since we bought the van last week. I talked my grandson into helping me tidy my workshop/garage, so that we could finish early and have a run out in the van as the weather today was glorious. We headed out to Hill Head, which overlooks the Isle of Wight and Southampton waters. Pulled straight into a parking spot, not as busy as I expected, we soon had the kettle out. After a bit of confusion trying to light the gas burner, we shortly had it whistling. Tea made, I dared to ask “Any biscuits?”. Mrs K, with a very large grin on her face, produced one of the many many containers that we had bought the previous weekend, full of fruit shortbread, with a look of “There! Told you so. I knew they would be very useful.” We settle down, all snug and cosy, Mrs K on the swivel seat with her Kindle, me sat in the rear looking out thinking “Well, this is great”, with a copy of “Pusser’s Progress” I had been given by the author, and Kindog looking out of the side door sniffing at anything and everything. I was soon asked by Mrs K “What bit are you reading?” as I coughed and choked with laughter (Mrs K having already read the book on her morning commute). I think Freud would have found Pusser an ideal case study with his interest in sanitary plumbing. After another cup of tea the biscuits were soon polished off. To ease my guilt I offered the container with the last two saying “These are yours”. Leaning back to take in the view, I thought “Got away with that one!”. Kindog and food are like lorry and trailer – not far away from each other. As the afternoon started to fade Kindog had made herself comfortable on the driver’s seat when an aroma that would have had Pusser’s nose twitching came from Kindog’s direction. Mrs K said “She needs a walk”, with the side door quickly opened and the smell still lingering we quickly washed the cups and stowed them away.
As we walked along the shoreline feeling very smug and happy with ourselves, having made a good choice with the “Granvan”, the Oyster Catchers and other wading birds feeding on the outgoing tide and the setting sun going down over Calshott point, we felt it had been a very good day all round. Over the Autumn Winter and spring of 2011 -2012 we used the Granvan a lot although we never actually spent a night sleeping in the van but had lots of very enjoyable trips out, we started to plan our holiday for 2012 to France. Our Grandson and his girlfriend wanted to come so I searched the internet for a good quality drive-away awning that would give separate sleeping areas and storage space for the extra equipment that would be required for the four of us and Kindog. Lots to choose from and at a cost which suited us we ordered it. I watched a video of erecting the awning, seemed simple and quite straightforward. As the winter passed and spring arrived, with all the necessary planning and route selection chosen, there was little else that we needed I had been looking on the internet for some chocks for the levelling ramps we had; there was a local company twenty minutes away selling them. I suggested we went over and buy them as it was Sunday and the weather was not too great, “OK lets go” Mrs K replied.
The motor home dealership had been trading for years but it had never really registered with me. We looked at the vans they had up for sale as we entered the showroom, all very nice but not what we had come for. Looking around the shop I found the chocks and a couple of other items we did not really require but bought anyway, and as we left Mrs K suggested we took a look at the motor homes. I agreed but said we are just looking! They were all a bit too big for us. Then we saw a Bailey 620 Approach and as we walked around it a voice said “Would you like to have a look inside?”
“We are only looking “ I said, but yes we would like to have a look – “ just a look” I said. Well, we looked and it would be a good sized motor home for us, but out of our price range as we had the Granvan and my Audi TT and there was no way they would take both as part exchange. “ Oh yes we will “ was the reply. Mrs K’s eyes lit up and I knew I was in trouble. The salesman had cast his line and we had swallowed it. Time for figures, but first I needed to see if it would fit on the drive. Yes it would – just. We now entered into a negotiating stage. I told him how much I wanted for the car and was not prepared to lower it. They had not seen the Granvan so would not give a value until it had been seen, but felt that if it was in good condition there would not been a problem. This would still leave us a bit short of the OTR price, also with an awning and reversing camera added the price increased, so some savings would have to be used.
So we went for some chocks and entered into a purchase of a new motorhome as long as the numbers on both sides could be agreed. Three weeks later we had a new motorhome and we were running around in my van I used for work. The bright side was that we had reduced our yearly insurance and road bills as we only had two forms of transport. This seemed, at the time, a good solution. The awning would still fit, but where we were going to put it was another matter, as it turned out the grandson and girlfriend had decided that they would not be coming. So we had all we needed, maps, Satnav an up to date book on the French Aires and only a few weeks to go before we were on our first motor home holiday.