Pont-de-l’Arche, Eure Department, Saturday 29th March 2014

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Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l'Arche

Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l’Arche

 

We are back at this lovely motorhome aire, one year to the day, and it looks even better today, as the sun’s been shining all day and it’s hot – 24 ºC inside – and very pleasant indeed outside. For the first time this year, we’ve gone out for a walk in shorts and t-shirts and sat outside a café in town and enjoyed a beer in the sun. I hope this will keep up for the next 3 weeks, but that’s too much to hope for…

 

Going for a strol in town in the sun

Going for a stroll in town in the sun

 

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l'Arche

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

We left England yesterday evening on the 5.20 pm Eurotunnel crossing as always, which wasn’t very busy at all. We only just made it by the skin of our teeth, for the traffic on the M25 was bad and we had to crawl along for a while. So we were in Calais for 7 pm, local time, and found a very busy aire at Wissant, with only the bus lanes available, which we are loathe to use as you could be moved on, so we parked on the far side from the road by the houses and the little lane leading to the town, which is not a proper bay but not really in the way of traffic flow.

 

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

 

I had made a pizza at home to cook in the van and, although I kept turning it every few minutes, somehow it managed to catch fire and in a matter of seconds the van was engulfed in smoke and I could hardly see Adonis at the other end. After opening the windows, moving the shelf a bit higher and turning the oven control down, I got busy with a tea-towel waving it and shaking it about in order to clear the smoke. 10 minutes later, we had our lovely home-made pizza, slightly charred at one end on the bottom, but very edible and tasty, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Californian Cabernet-Sauvignon. Must remember to move shelf up next time at the beginning of cooking time, but I believe the pizza base caught fire because I put a generous amount of olive oil when making dough, as it makes it taste a lot better. Live and learn.

 

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l'Arche

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l’Arche

 

We had an early start this morning, as Adonis woke up and came down at 7.30 am and I followed some 15 minutes later and we were ready to leave Wissant by 8.30 am en route to Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we tend to do our big shop for the week and fill up with diesel. We were out by 10 am and didn’t stop until we got to Pont-de-l’Arche (just south east of Rouen) at 12.30 pm, so very good going indeed.

 

View of river from the hill

View of river from the hill

 

We were surprised to see that the field adjacent to the motorhome aire had been taken over by travellers and at lunch-time there were quite a few cars and caravans coming in and out of their camp, which was a bit irritating as they turned in and out of it just behind us with a very narrow margin and I feared they might hit us, but luckily they were good drivers and no accident occurred and it’s all quiet now at 5 pm. They were very good neighbours.

 

The river Eure by motorhome aire

The river Eure by motorhome aire

 

This is still a beautiful aire by the river Eure and with lovely views of both, the river bank and the town itself, with the church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts on the hill right above. The campsite at the other end of the aire is open now and it looks very pretty, with lots of blossom on the trees at the moment, so that could be a possibility if the aire is full.

 

Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l'Arche

Pretty Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

 

We are going to Meung-sur-Loire tomorrow, south of Orleans, a new route for us and I am really excited about going to a new place.

 

 

 

Bognor Regis, West Sussex, 19th February 2014

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Bognor Regis sea front looking west

Bognor Regis sea front looking west

 

It is half term week and, as we can’t go away in our motorhome due to Beano’s leg injury, I have taken this opportunity to go for a long walk along Bognor Regis sea front, which is delightful and charming and never fails to lift my spirits, even in the winter.  My son was on an early shift at the Picturedrome in order to entertain children on holidays, so this is where my walk began after dropping him off at its doors.  Come and join me on my morning walk and enjoy!

 

The Picturedrome

The Picturedrome, where my walk began

 

I just love this sign!

I just love this sign!

 

It is so often the case that one is so keen to go and discover far-flung resorts, that it is very easy to forget the natural beauty that surrounds us every day. We often go for walks on the promenade and beach and I consider myself very lucky for living down here. Even now in the midst of the worst storms in over 100 years, we have been spared the terrible damage and grief that other parts of the UK have endured. Bognor Regis also claims to enjoy more hours of sunshine per year than any other town in the UK.  And let’s not forget the stunning South Downs National Park nearby for long hikes.

 

 

Then I passed the Minigolf green

Then I passed the Minigolf green, right on the sea front

 

Bognor was the very first English resort specially developed for bathing, after Sir Richard Hotham fell in love with the little fishing village and decided to create and up market resort towards the end of the 18th century. He built his home here, Hotham House, in 1792 and it is still regarded as the best Edwardian house in Sussex.  Bognor became very popular with the upper and middle classes, who came to enjoy the soothing waters, even Queen Victoria referred affectionately to it as “dear little Bognor”.  So if it was good enough for Queen Victoria, it is certainly good enough for me.

You can find out more about Bognor’s history here: http://www.bognor-regis.org/History/history_home.htm

 

And then I got to the Pier

And then I got to the Pier

 

Bognor Regis has been our home for the last 15 years and I can honestly say we have been very happy here, buying our home, raising our child and meeting some amazing, supportive and reliable people, starting with our next-door neighbours and, of course, our colleagues at work. So why not take a couple of hours to photograph my favourite and iconic sights of our home town? 

 

Early morning walkers on the beach, seen from the pier, looking east

Early morning walkers on the beach, seen from the pier, looking east

 

The Pier from the promenade, looking east

The Pier from the promenade, looking east

 

The Royal Norfolk Hotel, opposite the beach

The Royal Norfolk Hotel, opposite the beach

 

My walk took me west from the pier, as I was heading for the Marine Park Gardens, which I really love, and I found the damage caused by the storm being cleared by the maintenance team. You can see all the shingle on the promenade here.

 

 

 

The promenade covered by shingle after the storm

The promenade covered by shingle after the storm

 

shingle on the pavement too.

shingle on the pavement too.

 

A typical sea front house

A typical and charming sea front house

 

 

The start of the Marine Park Gardens

The start of the Marine Park Gardens

 

Signs of spring, looking towards the sea

Signs of spring, looking towards the sea

 

And after the devastation of the rains and storms, there is hope in the new flowers coming through, heralding the spring.

 

New life

New life

 

And to confirm that Spring is only round the corner, here are some early daffodils! 

 

Daffodils, a sure sight for sore eyes!

Daffodils, a sure sight for sore eyes!

 

Some more interesting buildings near the gardens

Some more interesting buildings near the gardens

 

After the Marine Park Gardens, I strolled back to the beach and headed back east.

 

Fishing boats waiting for better weather

Fishing boats waiting for better weather

 

And the quintessential British beach huts

And the quintessential British beach huts, looking east

 

These ones caught my eye for their personalised decor

These ones caught my eye for their personalised decor

 

Fishing boats enjoying the calm after the storm.

Fishing boats enjoying the calm after the storm

 

A bit of seaside chick and fun

A bit of seaside chic and fun

 

Feeling thirsty by now?

Feeling thirsty by now?

 

Another British classic: the Band Stand.

Another British classic: the Band Stand.

 

Some modern accommodation on the sea front

Some modern accommodation on the sea front

 

I had planned to finish my walk at Butlins holiday resort, as I have very happy memories of bringing my son here for the day when we first moved to Bognor Regis. I always took advantage of living in the PO21 post code area, which entitled us to a day pass for £5 during the school holidays all those years ago. My son loved it, as he got to meet some of his favourite characters, like Postman Pat and Noddy and I loved the acrobats, the swimming pool with its water rides, the theme park and the cinema. I was very pleased to see young families queueing up to get in, as it brought it all back. I am sure they are all having a wonderful time now.

 

Butlins: my final destination

Butlins Day Visitors’ entrance: my final destination, with young families queuing up

 

Butlins from the sea front

Butlins from the sea front

 

 

Walking back to my car, looking west

Walking back to my car, looking west

 

A busy High Street with iconic buildings

A busy High Street with iconic buildings

 

There are lots of hotels and B&Bs to stay in in Bognor Regis, but if you have a motorhome, you can always stop at Rowan Park Caravan Club Site, within walking distance to the town itself and the sea.  For more information look here: http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk-caravan-sites-and-parks/SiteDetails.aspx?csid=21969

 

 

Le Crotoy in a Different Light, Thursday 2nd January 2014

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Magnificent sunset

Magnificent sunset

 

 

We have been here many times and this quaint little fishing town still remains one of our favourite spots in western France. The amazing thing about it is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, it always looks different with the changing of the tides and the light reflected in the bay of the Somme. It is simply a beautiful and relaxing way to finish our holiday, taking a long stroll over the sand dunes above the marshes and along the pier back into town.

 

A gentle stroll on the sand dunes

A gentle stroll on the sand dunes

 

If you have a motorhome, you simply must come here. The aire is just by the bay and the marina for only 5€ a day and you’ll be spoilt for choice of fish restaurants, all very reasonably priced. Even in January, there are about 20 campervans staying at the motorhome aire, and it’s not just the motorhomers, whole families with children of all ages come out in the afternoon to enjoy this glorious sight and the sun.

 

The marshes on the Bay of the Somme

The marshes on the Bay of the Somme

 

We did not make it to Normandy, as we stayed that extra day at Lake Bounty, but still no fish! So we headed for Brogley on Wednesday to take Beano to the vet’s first thing on Thursday morning before coming to Le Crotoy. Tomorrow is shopping at Au Chan at Boulogne-sur-Mer (exit 31 on A16) and then back to Wissant, where we are hoping to enjoy a nice long and no doubt windy walk on the beach again.  It will be an early start on Saturday morning for our crossing back to England in the Channel Tunnel.

 

Beano enjoying his first wakl on the Bay of the Somme

Beano enjoying his first wakl on the Bay of the Somme

 

Not sure if we’ll come back in February.  I feel I’d like to wait till the weather warms up a bit at Easter time and we’ll have more time to go further down south. We’ll see.

 

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

 

The ever changing sands on the Bay of the Somme

The ever changing sands on the Bay of the Somme

 

I simply love this boat

I simply love this boat

 

The Marina and town in the background

The Marina and town in the background with lens flare 

 

I love this one too!

I love this one too!  Just look at that sun!

 

From a different angle

From a different angle

 

The Marina bathed in the light of the setting sun

The Marina bathed in the light of the setting sun

 

I just couldn't stop taking pictures

I just couldn’t stop taking pictures

 

 

Just one more!

Just one more!

 

 

 

 

 

Bounty Lake (Etang des Chères), Sarthe Department, Sunday 29th December 2013

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Lovely sunny and warm Sunday at Bounty Lake

Lovely sunny and warm Sunday at Bounty Lake

 

We’ve decided to try out this lake about 6 miles (9km) south of Le Mans to see if Adonis is a bit more successful with his fishing, as he hasn’t been very lucky lately. We have provisionally booked for 2 days, but might push another night if weather holds. It’s very quiet here and the British couple in charge, Bob and Les, are very friendly and welcoming. We have water, electricity, a hot shower, the sun has been shining all day and it felt quite warm in the van without any heating until now, 5.30pm, so it’s been a good day.

 

Fishing at last!

Fishing at last!

 

This is, however, the first nice day we’ve had since we left home on Thursday morning, as the weather turned very windy and wet in the evening at Wissant, with the van rocking in the middle of the night, waking us up. In the morning, we saw a branch from one of the trees behind the van had been broken off and had caught in the branches of the adjacent tree, so lucky it didn’t damage either the motorhome or the house in whose garden it stood.

 

A very windy night at Wissant left us this broken branch behind motorhome

A very windy night at Wissant left us this broken branch behind motorhome

 

We followed the same route south as in October half-term, stopping at the motorhome aire at Buchy, just north of Rouen, as we had really liked it then. As we arrived by lunchtime, we took Beano for his afternoon walk through the market town, but as we got to the centre, he was spooked by something and, while I was taking pictures of the market place and Christmas decorations, he managed to pull the lead off Adonis’s hand and I saw him running for his life in the middle of the road heading straight for an on-coming car. I screamed and Adonis waved his arms about to stop the traffic and Beano ran to the pavement, heading uphill back to the M.H. Aire. I ran after him, but he was too far in front and I would have never caught him if it hadn’t been for a kind young couple who saw him coming and luckily stopped him and kept him until I got to them, breathless but relieved to have got him back safe. So we took him back to the van and left him there with his food and water and we went out again to enjoy a coffee at one of the local bars and to continue taking photos of this charming little town. I think that from now on we will remember Buchy as the place where Beano ran off and I nearly had a heart attack!

 

Beano on the lead before he ran off

Beano on the lead in Buchy before he ran off

 

 A Christmassy Buchy

A Christmassy Buchy

 

Welcome to Buchy

Welcome to Buchy

 

The old market place at Buchy

The old market place at Buchy

 

 

Buchy's Townhall

Buchy’s Townhall

 

On Saturday morning, we bought our baguette and cake from one of the boulangeries in town and continued on south, still round the north and eastern side of Rouen, as the Pont Mathilde is still closed until the summer of 2014, and followed the usual route down to Alençon on the D438 and from there on the D338 to La Hutte, where we headed west for about 4 miles on the D310 to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, where we stopped at the motorhome aire by the circus school which John and Julie had told us about, right by the old railway station. This was very pleasant, but the water had been turned off, so we bought 2 5-gallon bottles of water at the nearby Le Mutant supermarket, just to be on the safe side.

 

Motorhome aire by circus school at Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Motorhome aire by circus school at Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Once again, we went to explore the town, but this time we kept a firm grip on Beano’s lead and we even carried him in our arms for a bit when we was reluctant to walk and was pulling back too much.

 

The river Sarthe had burst its banks

The river Sarthe had burst its banks

 

We were amazed to see that the river Sarthe had burst its banks again and quite a few houses seemed to have their gardens and outbuilding under water or badly flooded, so we were worried that Bounty lake, just a few miles down the road, might be the same, but luckily we are all right here.

 

A flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

A flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Flooded gardens and outbuildings

Flooded gardens and outbuildings

 

Flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe is a really charming town and we have fond memories of our first summer holiday in the van back in 2010 when we watched the Football Worldcup final between Spain and Holland and how friendly the campsite manager had been, giving out free beers to everyone. We hadn’t come back since, so I am glad we have now, and we should return again in the summer and enjoy a swim in the river, like we did with Pepo and Bramble 3 years ago.

 

Walking in charming Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Walking in charming Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Today’s been a short drive from Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, back on the D338 and round Le Mans, past the 24-hour racing circuit and back on the D338 to Lake Bounty. We arrived by 11am, with plenty of time for mid-morning coffee and cake, showers and even fishing before lunch!

 

Our parking spot at Lake Bounty, just a few meters away from the fishing area

Our parking spot at Lake Bounty, just a few meters away from the fishing area

 

We hope the weather holds so that we can keep on enjoying the walks around the lake, the fishing and, most importantly, relaxing in the sun.

2013 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merry Christmas

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Not travelling just yet, but I just wanted to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a fantastic 2014.

 

Adonis, Beano and I will be setting off on Boxing Day, 26th December, to spend our first night at Wissant aire, then our second visit to the lovely little town of Buchy, followed by Gacé, just north of Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, and then 2 nights on Bounty Lake, just south of Le Mans, for a spot of fishing, followed by Normandy and start our way back to Calais. We should be back on 4th January.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

 

 

Our front room looking Christmassy. Motorhome can be seen through he window.

Our front room looking Christmassy. Motorhome can be seen through he window

 

Home-made Christmas garland to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas

Home-made Christmas garland to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas

 

 

Berck, Pas de Calais, Thursday 31st October 2013

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Berck seen from the beach

Berck seen from the beach

 

 I am delighted to say that John and Julie were absolutely right in recommending this top aire by the Base Nautique, Chemin aux Raisins, right by the enormous beach and lovely sand dunes, very much like Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. It only cost €6.50 a day and has room for 75 vehicles, but it’s free from November to March inclusive and there’s free water, although no electricity.

 

Berck's motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

Berck’s motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

 

We arrived here at around 1.15 pm, as we decided to do our big shop this morning instead of tomorrow, being Toussaints and a Bank Holiday here and we were not sure if Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer would be open.

 

Sand dunes on Berck's beach

Sand dunes on Berck’s beach

 

We had lunch a bit later than usual, followed by a rest after the long drive from Broglie (3 ½ hours plus shopping time), and have just returned from a very pleasant walk in a very strong wind on the magnificent beach and pier where we were able to have a good look at the seals resting there and, of course, I took loads of pictures!

 

Seals at the end of the pier

Seals at the end of the pier

 

I'll just have a rest!

I’ll just have a rest!

 

It's more fun with a partner

It’s more fun with a partner

 

Mingling with the seagulls

Mingling with the seagulls

 

Beano thoroughly loved chasing his ball on the hard sand despite it being blown into his eyes and getting his fur covered in it.

 

A great beach to chase a ball

A great beach to chase a ball

 

I can imagine what a wonderful place this will be in the summer months too, and again, this is another destination to come back to in the future, whatever the weather.

 

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

 

We also had a lovely sunny day in Broglie yesterday and it was great having a dog again to walk along the Charentonne river, with its picturesque water mill and beautiful views of the countryside around. We met a very friendly Dutch lady who’s moved here and we chatted with her in French for a while, as she spoke very clearly and was easy to understand. She told us she lived in one of the houses on the hill on the opposite side and that she regularly walks the round tour from her house down through the village, to the library by the motorhome aire and through the woods, which only takes one hour, so we might try this when Beano is a bit older and can walk for longer.

 

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

 

 I went to the local bakery for the daily baguette and cakes, then the butcher’s for a couple of delicious fillet stakes, which I cooked and served with chips, salad and bread.

 

Lovely views from the river walk

Lovely views from the river walk

 

The visit to the vet’s was quite straightforward, even though the nurse seemed quite surprised that the rabies vaccine was done in 2 separate doses in the UK and she queried me about this. Other than that, it was plain sailing and Beano is now wormed and ready to return home.

 

The Charentonne river at Broglie

The Charentonne river at Broglie

 

So, it’s Wissant’s aire tomorrow and another long walk on the beach, we hope.

 

Ferries heading for the UK

Ferries heading for the UK