Friday, 31 August 2012

Travels With Mr P.

Apologies for the delay in writing but I have had an extremely busy week back at work along with a cold so have not had the energy to complete this blog until now. More apologies for my appalling grammar but if you wait for me to correct it then this would never get posted. Happy reading.

 Have had two wonderful weeks travelling around France with our increasingly old car and our "Boing" tent. Started off leaving Dover for Dunkerque. I had forgotten how amazing the white cliffs are, been many years since I have seen them.

 First night we stayed on a campsite in Blois very near to Chambord Chateau. The next day we visited this amazing place.

The estate is larger than Paris! I would have loved to have had the time to have hired some bikes and cycled through some of the forest but time was limited. Quote from Wikepedia:- "One of the architectural highlights is the spectacular double helix open staircase that is the centerpiece of the château. The two helixes ascend the three floors without ever meeting, illuminated from above by a sort of light house at the highest point of the château. There are suggestions that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed the staircase, but this has not been confirmed." 

Truly spectacular feature. Apologies for not being able to take a photograph that does this staircase any justice.

Our next day of travel was to a village near to Clermont-Ferrand. We wanted to go and see France's volcano -Puy-de-Dome. Went out after tea to go to the top only to discover that you cannot drive to the top anymore but have to catch a train up the side of the volcano. Amazingly the train runs to midnight! So we dashed on only to reach the top in pouring rain and temperatures around a chilly ten degrees! Also we were only in shorts and T shirts so needless to say we did a rather fast walk around the top took a few dull, hazy pictures and descended for a lovely cup of drinking chocolate. I think under normal circumstances it would have been a fantastic trip with brilliant views and lots of other volcanoes to walk to from the top but that will be for another year. Decided that the south was calling us and so off we went again and this time we stayed at a place called Vers near to Cahors (pronounced Cars). We pitched by the River Lot on what is a municipal site. These are sites run by the council - sometimes they can be very basic but a lot of them - dare I say it - even better than English campsites!

Evening trip into Cahors and there were many lamp posts, seats etc been covered in knitting - how cool!

 I just cannot begin to imagine the generosity of spirit in knitting these creations for all to see and the fear of someone coming along and destroying them.

Sorry forgot to say we have now gone from the rather chilly temperature of last night to it being around thirty degrees!

As it was so hot I opted for a lovely tuna nicoise salad. It was so so yummy, washed down with lashings of red wine. The next morning we went to book a kayak and visit a cave but on the way we passed this sweet small market. It's impossible to drive pass them - you just have to stop and browse. The smell and colours are spectacular.

The cave was so busy that we had to book a ticket for the afternoon but it was well worth the wait - Pech Merle   We were not allowed to take photographs but I can recommend anyone to visit. As well as touring the caverns it homes some prehistoric cave paintings - awesome! The temperature is now in the forties and going underground seemed a rather good idea. Mr P realised that if we went back to the campsite he'd never drag me back out so we then went to visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Next day was our 23km canoe trip down the River Cele. This was a great thing to do in such scorching temperatures but by the afternoon I was getting rather tired of rowing - just not used to it. The grade was just a one and this meant that the current didn't move us much - we had to do the work - whereas last year we went kayaking down a fast moving river with lots of rocks to avoid and only took us a fraction of the time to complete. Sorry this sounds negative - we had a lovely day, with stops for our picnic and a swim in the river to cool us down. I lost count how many times I had to apply suntan lotion. 

The next day was spent slobbering by the side of the River Cele with our books, crochet and picnic, under a shady tree. It was so good just to relax.

This was the temperature in our car after we came back from a night out!

Time to move on - this time we were not too sure where to as the plan had been to head for the Pyrenees and hire a donkey for a few days to do some walking - but with the heat we decided that we could not cope with this activity. So initially we set out with the car packed up for Rocamadour This is another village built in a gorge above the River Dordogne. We hadn't quite anticipated the crowds that would be visiting this place and the temperature was again in the forties.

Along with lots and lots of fluid we managed to walk to the very top of Rocamadour, by the time we walked back down the hill to the car I was the colour of a lobster and just flopped on the grass for 20 minutes to re cooperate. It was at this point that we made our decision to camp not too far away at my favourite campsite in the whole wide world! Well I haven't been too far but you take my point. Camping Domaine de la Faurie

This is the toilet block!

It was so hot that for one day Mr P and I just lazed by the pool ALL day and just jumped into the pool to cool off. It was a great day except I think that was the start of me getting repetitive strain injury - as I spent the whole day crocheting  granny squares.                                                                                                                    

Pictures of our lovely tent. I think next year it will be time for me to make some more brighter buntings.

Well after some rather difficult nights trying to get to sleep, because of the heat we decided that we would not head for the Pyrenees but rather return to Ile D'Oleron. I have to say it was rather difficult to settle there as there are so many tourists, cars, traffic lights and just general busyness but after a few days lazing on the beaches we became acclimatised.

Pictures of Le Chateau. (The Capital)

Then all very soon the week was ending and on our last evening (on the island) we celebrated our anniversary at a tiny restaurant that we had discovered on a previous holiday. One lady runs the whole show - she's the waitress, cook, and washer upper! Amazing woman.

Sadly the next morning we bade farewell to the island and travelled north towards St Malo to stay one night on a municipal camp site. Previous years we've stayed on this large posh site just outside Dinan but I've never liked it for various different reasons that I won't bore you all with. But this year we were so pleased to stay on this amazing small council run camp site. It cost us £10 including electricity - what a bargain, but it came with a lot of character. The first picture is a view looking down the road.

The pitches looked as if they were in individual gardens

We spent our last evening in France, in Dinan. It's a great town - shame the shops were shut - I could have had a good time with Mr P's wallet.

After a yummy meal and a lovely night out back to the tent for a final sleep. Next morning we had to make quite a long walk down the road to the toilet block which must be almost historical - belongs in a museum.

These are the sinks to wash your clothes - just what every modern household should have!

And this is a photograph of one of the showers - sorry it was a bit dark and not easy to get a picture, but it was clean, just rather strange. You had to pull the chain in order to get some hot water - effective.

And finally before we left we had to make sure that we did not have a cat inside the car! The moggy's owner is working temporarily in the area and has opted to camp on this site for three months. So the cat has decided that any tent or car on the pitch is also her territory. She was very cute and had a crawl around our tent. Her name is typoo. Au revoir France.

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