After just over fourteen months back in the UK, six months living in a flat in Slough and eight months on and off in Mika in a field in Holyport with our friendly cows, we are off again.
We had an incredibly mild winter which made those morning runs and exercise routines not so bad and don’t tell them, but there is a lot to be said for being close to family and it isn’t just about having the washing done without having to go look for a launderette!
As I am sure that you will have gathered from the lack of blog over the last couple of months, my father unfortunately passed away in mid-August. He was a fighter and did his best to make the most of everything right up until the end. He hated the thought that he was holding us back from our travels, mainly because he was jealous and would have liked to be doing it himself but probably also because he loved the stories when we came back from our short trips away over the summer.
So, having celebrated his life and said our goodbyes to him we set off again on Tuesday taking Mika on the Eurotunnel for the first time.
It’s amazing how each year you focus your approach when leaving the UK … this year we have stocked up with two 500g jars of Marmite, two pots of 1kg Peanut butter (we got rid of the electric hand held mixer so we can’t make our own now!) and lots of lovely Waitrose bread flour … yep, I know that is going to run out soon but we may as well enjoy it for a bit!!!
The plan – as we always start with one – has already changed and we are less than a week in – so there is no hope. Keith has decided he would like to go to Cognac (why not?) but apart from that it will be a little bit of a ‘suck it and see’ trip, although we need to be in Alicante at the beginning of November which if nothing else gives us a target to work to.
As before, we will be logging the trip on Travelerspoint so if you like to visualise the route – and don’t get too dizzy when we end up going round and round in circles -please keep an eye on the Map
Having left Holyport with plenty of time for a train we ended up parked up at the Eurotunnel for nearly three hours due to an ‘incident’ in the tunnel and over ‘keen-ness’. Ninety minutes after our departure time (that serves us right for getting there 90 minutes early) Mika slowly got onto the train and thirty five minutes later we were in France working our way towards St Valery sur Somme (GPS n.50,18211 e.1,62896) to spend our first night.
St Valery sur Somme is a lovely town with an excellent aire and lots of walking/cycling close by, however as we have stayed here a couple of times before we only stopped for the night. We woke to a dark chilly morning and I set off for a run around the bay and along the canal whilst Keith did some Hiit training being watched closely by some of the neighbours… we forget how amusing this can be!
Still unsure whether we needed to go back to Bagnoles De L’Orne (to see the Notaire relating to my father) we thought we would do a short hop along the coast to Fecamp (GPS n.49,76108 e.0,37398) as we hadn’t ever been there before.
Apart from the impressive cliffs, Fecamp is quite an industrial seaside town known only for Benedictine which was developed by the Monks as a medicinal aromatic herbal beverage, it was discovered by a local businessman who sold it into pharmacies for medicinal benefit, eventually mass producing it in probably the only beautiful building that remains in Fecamp before it was bought out by Martini Rossi and later by Bacardi!
After a good nights sleep we woke to really high winds and grey clouds closing in on us. Both closely watched by our neighbours we did our morning workout despite the winds – it was quite nice to be on nice flat concrete rather than a muddy field…. a pleasant change!
As the wind brought the rain we set off on another short hop to Honfleur, looking for somewhere ‘pretty’ to stay for a night or two. As the weather wasn’t great we decided to stop and do our shopping at Le Clerk on route …. still haven’t quite got over the excitement of the first couple of shops in a foreign country! (despite the fact that we were actually only in France two weeks ago). I am sure it isn’t just us that get carried away buying more than we need….. all those lovely cheeses!!
We hadn’t ever stayed at the aire in Honfleur before as when we were here three and a half years ago we were very new to the motorhome and booked into the flooded campsite….yes, in June it was mostly under water. This time the campsite was closed – it really can’t want to make any money, but we probably would have gone straight to the aire anyway. The Aire (GPS n.49,41924 e.0,24154) is enormous, not underwater, central, amazingly quiet, has good services and has enough space for 200+ motorhomes – it must be a great money earner for the town.
As it was still raining Keith made some Chilli and Squash muffins and we sorted out some admin, putting a little bit of thought into the next few days travels. Miraculously, although I hadn’t believed the BBC website, ahead of the said time of 5pm the rain stopped, clouds cleared and the sun shone down on us so we headed out for a walk around town and then back to the motorhome to enjoy the sun going down with a nice Gin and Tonic (me) Whiskey (Keith) ….. very pleasant!
After a quiet night we woke to the sun shining but a cool chill in the air, bounced out of bed (errr…not!) and I set off on a run whilst Keith kept the neighbours amused …. apparently one of the Spanish motorhomes has converted the area at the back which could either be a garage or bunk beds into a home for a Great Dane ….. how cool is that? Although I am not sure that I could cope with that much slobber in a confined space – I am talking about the Great Dane, not Keith!
As the weather was looking dry, after a shower and breakfast we decided to stay a couple of nights and walk up into the forest towards Deauville. Thankfully the route was lined with trees along the quiet lane and then we ended up in a fairly dense forest which was beautifully autumnal, all the way the trees protected us from the views out over Le Havre (You have to have been here to appreciate what I am saying the bay isn’t particularly scenic) – a really lovely walk.
Back at the motorhome we set about making muesli, rolls and tortillas for our Fajitas … quite a productive evening!
Saturday morning as the sun came up the air was even fresher than yesterday. Keith is now insisting on running with me once a month and Saturday was the day … yep, I know that I am sounding negative and ungrateful, but I am pretty happy running on my own!! Anyway, we ran up the hill and into the lovely tree lined lane we walked down at the beginning of the route yesterday…. a hard climb but tranquil and refreshing…. it is nice having him there to encourage me along!
Before leaving Honfleur we went to check out their Saturday market which this weekend had an additional ‘Flavour’ theme, with stalls selling everything from Goats cheese through to Calvados flavoured sea salt …. needless to say despite the wonderful array of seafood and alike, having been shopping yesterday we only bought some Semi-fresh Goats cheese before heading on our way to Bagnoles De L’Orne…. we will plan better next time.
Without the need to see the Notaire we are only here for a couple of nights, parked up by the tennis club (GPS n.48,55559 w.0,40950) which is lovely and quiet if you ignore the occasional Acorn that falls from a great height…. hopefully not doing any damage as they hit with some force.
The last day and a half has flown by and has been lovely having spent last night eating a lovely French tapas type meal in front of the fire at Tom and Monique’s and then walking out to Geneslay today to taste some of the delights that the Auberge de la Corbonniere cooked up – we definitely needed a bit of a walk on the way back to help the food go down!
To finish off a lovely couple of days Tom and Monique popped back round later this afternoon while we were peeling our cooked horse chestnuts – what a faff – with a box of apples and despite my initial hesitation I think that we have just about done them justice ….. I forgot to take a photo at the beginning so this was how much was left after we cooked up the first wok full….
Finally having cooked up more apples than we have places to put them (and holding three back to make some apple and cinnamon muffins tomorrow) we finally donated the last eight (generous or what….) to the neighbours who were very grateful once I stopped speaking French and realised they were English!!