Since writing my last blog back in September 2020 it feels like we have spent far too long inside and not really venturing very far apart from work or shopping.
So after 18 months, well apart from one very short trip that lasted less than 4hrs and the cost of a new gearbox we have finally decided to make our way across to France.
However packing up the motorhome and sorting our stuff out this time was a hard slog and something we will have to consider in the future before heading off, because I had clearly forgotten that I had previously written how liberating it was to realise how few things you needed and how I had embraced living lightly, well the poor old motorhome seems to be groaning under the amount of stuff I’m piling into the lockers this time.
Planning this trip seemed a bit of a minefield at times with the requirements changing daily – which documents, vaccines or tests we needed, and was there a timeframe this all needed to be done by, to what status our country was for the locator form Green, Amber or Red to which no one could tell us the answer, not even border control knew!!
Our boarding at Dover was surprisingly straightforward regarding the covid situation and we only had to show our passports and NHS app status, they were more concerned whether we had weapons or ammunition hidden inside a cupboard!
The sea is relatively calm and despite a short delay in departing we still arrive in Calais early afternoon and with no checks on disembarking we are soon on our way, back in an area we are now familiar with and as we turn right Ditsy our sat-nav swings into action guiding us to the aire we will stop at tonight.
Once we are out and about it’s clear that covid restrictions are still in place here to some degree, masks are obligatory in shops, bars and restaurants, and our NHS pass as to be shown and we soon become aware that 3 vaccines are the requirements here at this given time.
I may be wrong but I think society and the world as we know it will be forever changed by the last few years, so being in the van is probably the easiest way to still keep some form of social distancing and travel at the same time.
Since we arrived the weather as been horrendous; cold, high winds and raining most days so moving on each day seemed to be the best plan in search of the sun.
Much of this first part of our trip has been spent on our own but when we do find a nearly full aire it’s time to put the kettle for a cup of tea and watch the daily life of a motorhome unfold because it’s not every day you get to chat to your neighbour whilst they are cleaning out their toilet!!
Hardelot-Plage is a busy seaside town on the Cote dOpale just a few miles down the coast from the port of Boulogne, and with beaches that stretch for miles, it’s good to get out for a walk.
It’s world book week and where we stay at Saint Valery Sur Somme we see the local school celebrating French style.
Cany-Barville chateau is temporarily closed when we pass but it’s such a magnificent building that comes into view as we turn the corner.
As we arrive at Honfleur aire part of the site is cordoned off and there are fewer electric points so we finally find a spot in the corner overlooking the river.
Before we venture out today John has a spot of maintenance to take care of. Our shower started to leak the day we left so unless we get it fixed the French will be saying we ‘ Oh, tu sens’!!
You can see why the Calvados area is one of the most popular tourist spots.
With its lovely countryside, beautiful timber built slate-covered houses, wonderful Chateau and let’s not forget the local Brandy.
Chateau Gonneville sur Honfleur that features in Chateau DIY
It’s a shame that the weather is so bad because Cormeilles is such a pretty village so we make a quick dash to the shops to get fresh bread.
Out in the countryside near Moyaux, we find an amazing cider farm which sells an array of local goodies we buy Cider and the local dessert Teurgoule is very similar to a rice pudding, we buy the caramel flavour.
At the edge of the small village of Ecouche, we find the aire and being a Sunday nothing is open only the Boloungere.
We pass Chateau La Motto Husson from the tv series Escape to the Chateau
Informed that we can’t stay on the land next to the lake and not wanting to travel any further we go into the campsite at Villiers-Charlemagne. It’s a lovely little site right next to the lake but I am sure most of the people here live here full time!
Chateau-Gontier lunch by river and walk
At Gez Neuville there is only a Post office and a restaurant so its bread from the dispensing machine tonight.
Behuard is the only village nestling on an island on the Loire and sometimes during December-May the river breaks its banks and floods this petite village but it’s something the locals have become accustomed to.
Here everyone and everything travels on a flat-bottomed boat known as a ‘plate’ these can be seen in action at the festival every September.
At Mesnard-la-Barotière we stay next to a lake and apart from the odd jogger and fisherman, it’s just us the wind and the rain.
Les Sables-d’Olonne which means ”The Sands of Olonne” is a seaside town on the Atlantic Ocean and being a Saturday the harbour is a hive of activity.
La Faute Sur Meris with beaches stretching for over 8km and over 200 hectares of holm oaks and pines it’s the ideal area for sea lovers, walkers or cyclists.
Marennes-Plage we stop off for a walk
Mornac-Sur-Seudre is the last place we stop at before we start a house sit so we have a walk around the village and decide to spend the night at this pretty village. However we were not expecting the constant stream of Oyster farmers passing through out the night, but even more surprised to find the Sahara sand storm had also passed this way last night and our motorhome now looks like its been off-roading!!