Friday, 21 July 2017

River Breamish Caravan Club Site, Powburn

Wednesday, 19th July 2017

We had glorious hot and sunny days, Monday and Tuesday, too much to expect that it would run to three in a row, this is Northern England! Cloudy but mild, with the possibility of a shower, is the forecast for today.

The plan is to take the bus to Alnwick (there is a bus stop approximately 20 minutes walk from the site).

Bus arrived on-time, driven by a very competent young lady who looked young enough to be a school girl, but, she whisked us along the country lanes, no problem.

A wander around Alnwick, doing the usual "day visitor" things, ie coffee and cake, inevitably, visiting the shops, Kathleen has her "retail fix". Lunch at the Market Tavern Pub and Steakhouse, very good indeed.

Return bus ride is with the school children, so, not so quiet!

Overall, a pleasant day out, and, we did not get rained on!

Thursday, 20th July 2017

Heavy, well, torrential actually, overnight rain, but, nothing like what other parts of the UK have had, so, not thunder, no hail stones and no flooding (here-abouts anyway).

By 08:00, cloudy, dry, and mild.

The weather forecast says it may rain at about 13:00, in an attempt to beat the rain, we are out, cycling by 10:00.

The plan had been to cycle to Wooler, about eight miles away, but, the Site Warden has told Kathleen that part of the route is off-road, and can be muddy. Given last nights heavy rain, this is enough to deter Kathleen, no sense of adventure!

As an alternative, we cycle along route 68, which is a tarmac surface, a small and quiet road in fact.

After two miles, it begins to rain, slightly, but, Kathleen is not deterred, we keep going.

Initially, we follow route 68, past Reavely, but, the hills are not to Kathleen's liking, so, we retrace our steps (or peddling) and instead cycle up the Breamish Valley, towards Linhope Spout, waterfall.

Following my usual procedure of telling white lies about how far is still to go, we pass Ingram, and make it almost to Hartside Farm, before my ruse wears thin, and Kathleen refuses to tackle the next hill.

My next ruse, explaining that it is not hilly, but undulating meets with a similar dismissal.

But, as the photographs show, we are rather high, onto moorland.

We freewheel, most of the way to Ingram Mill, to enjoy a cup of two and an enormous and delicious slice of Carrot Cake, in the village cafe.

Then, back to the campsite, just getting slightly wet, as the rain begins, to complete a respectable 11 miles.

A sterling effort by Kathleen, after her recent hospital stay.

Peddling along behind her, I gave my usual "encouraging comments" ie "stop talking and save your breath and keep pedaling". 

Friday 21st July 2017.

Home again.

Time to begin planning another trip!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

River Breamish Caravan Club Site

Tuesday, 18th July 2017

A short break, only an hours drive and approximately 50 miles from home, to hopefully speed Kathleen's recovery.

Yet another Hospital appointment yesterday, with the usual expectations of an appointment time, which means you arrive on time, then wait for an hour (or two), we assumed that Monday was a write-off, but, surprise, surprise, appointment actually happened spot on time. But, too late, by the time I rang to attempt to change our booking to include Monday, the site was full.

In common with most Caravan Club Sites, check-in is not before 13:00. 

The weather is beautiful, so, we decide to make the most of the good weather and stop off at Druridge Bay Country Park.

Very pleasant, plenty of free parking, a boating lake (bring your own boat!), walking routes, cycling routes and a Visitor Centre with cafe.

So, a two mile walk around the lake, in the sunshine, the morning is not wasted.

Entertainment is provided by a group of School Children who are on a "school trip" with two teachers to supervise. There is a male teacher, who clearly has a great interest in imparting a love of nature to the (not always receptive) pupils, and a female teacher, who I think, in a previous life was probably a Sergant-Major and kept everyone in-line.

If we had travelled directly to Powburn, our route would have been mainly major roads, A19, A1, A697, but, our detour means a cross country route, from Druridge Bay to Powburn, at least we see a lot of rural Northumberland. 

With almost perfect timing, we arrive at 13:15 at River Breamish Caravan Club Site, Powburn, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 4HY.

The site is a short distance off the main A697, far enough so that it is not possible to hear any road noise.

As you would expect, from Caravan Club, it is a clean and well maintained site.

Essentials are quickly done (EHU plugged in, also, there is TV plug in), and a quick lunch.

Bicycles unloaded and we cycle along the quiet lanes to explore.

Despite Kathleen's miss-givings (does that sound better than complaints?) about the surrounding hills, the cycle route follows the River Breamish valley and is easy going, we do a ten mile round trip, as far as Ingram Village, with some small detours to explore possible future routes.

By the time we return, the initial "miss-givings" have turned to enthusiastic self-satisfaction, perhaps Kathleen is on the road to recovery.

I am chef for the evening, but, easy-peasy, Marks and Spencer "two dine for £10", and, I get to drink the wine, plus, very little washing up! 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Camping St Claire, Neufchatel-en-Bray and Home

Thursday, 27th April 2017

We wake up to rain, and 3C, but, by lunch time the rain has gone and a sunny with cloud 9C.

We have Lidl, Le Clerc, Aldi all within five minutes walk, so, we indulge in a wine buying day.

Friday, 28th April 2017

Dry and mild, well, at 8C, mild compared to yesterday, although the forecast does not promise anything tropical!

As is often the case, it turns out very much like yesterday, except slightly warmer at 11C.

Kathleen decides to have a "hair care session, so it will all be done for when we get home", basically, this involves me doing all of the packing, shopping and preparation for leaving at lunch time, whilst Kathleen "does her hair". It is a hard life, being a woman, so I am told.

Saturday, 29th April 2017

Today looks as if it is going to be a beautiful day, sunshine and by the time we leave Neufchatel at lunch time a pleasant 21C.

Kathleen decides to have a "hair care session, so it will all be done for when we get home", basically, this involves me doing all of the packing, shopping and preparation for leaving at lunch time, whilst Kathleen "does her hair". It is a hard life, being a woman, so I am told.

A totally uneventful drive to Calais and the Tunnel, an early train, and then home on quiet roads, we arrive home at 03:00 in the morning.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

To La Ferte Beauharnais, and then to Neufchatel-en-Bray

Tuesday 25th April 2017

For the first time in several weeks, we wake up to find the sun is most definitely not shining! Dull, grey sky, and a rather chilly 7C. The sun struggles to break through in the course of the morning, but, never quite makes it. By 16:00, it is raining steadily.

Kathleen's plan of leaving the Aire at St Priest Taurion, before breakfast, and then break our journey at the first service area we come to on the A20, to have breakfast, may be a very good plan, but, it is thwarted by an accident on the A20, which has closed the northbound carriageway for several junctions.

After a diversion of some 10-15 miles, which is extremely busy, with all of the traffic off the A20, we eventually come to a grinding halt, about two miles from the point at which we can rejoin the A20, the hold up appears to be just sheer volume of traffic.

Kathleen leaps into action, to prove that she is more use than the sat-nav, and we take a detour, off the ring road, which is traffic bound, through the centre of a small town, and emerge at the entry point to the A20, having "queue jumped" a couple of miles of standing traffic.

We have an Aire chosen for tonight, it is one I got of the Facebook, Autotrail Owners Group, at a place called Mennetou-sur-Cher.. 

Neither us, or our sat-nav could find a way to access the supposed parking spot, the bridge over the canal was only had a width limit of 2 metres and a weight limit of 2 tonnes, we are 2.2metres and 3.650 tonnes. There may be a way, but, we could not find it.

We head on, for our "fall back" option, La Ferte Beauharnais (N47 32.655' E1 50.937').

This Aire, is on the edge of the village, adjacent to the village fishing lake. I am sure, on a sunny day, it will be a delightful spot, but, when we arrive, it is raining steadily!

Despite the rain, it is popular, by 18:30 there are five vans there.

Although the Aire is just off the road, there is little traffic, and it is pleasantly quiet for a good nights sleep.

Wednesday 26th April 2017

The weather forecast says rain for La Ferte Beauhamais today, so, it is a pleasant surprise to find it is just cold (5C) and dull.

In the course of the day, we have occasional glimpses of sunshine, but, the temperature never struggles above 10C, and, by the time we reach Rouen, we have alternating hail and sleet!

We had originally planned to fit in another stop, at an Aire, which had been recommended to us by Motorhoming friends John and Carol. 

The Aire is near Rouen.

Given the weather, we decide to give that a miss and head straight for Camping St Claire, (N49.73781 E1.42803) at Neufchatel-en-Bray.

Camping St Claire is one of our favourite stops, the owner keeps the place absolutely pristine, and, it is only 15Euro per night (it used to be 12Euro, when we first started coming here ten years ago).

If the weather is kind, there is an excellent cycle route, and, it is a relatively short (20 minute) walk into town.

The added advantage is it's proximity to Calais, only a little over 100 miles, and, there is a selection of supermarkets for last minute wine hoarding, and, diesel fill up.

So, it makes an excellent last stop, before Calais or Dunkirk.

The weather has improved, from hail and sleet at Rouen to Sunshine and showers, but a cool 8C, at Neufchatel-en-Bray. 

Kathleen has spent the journey shouting at the sat-nav, because it did not calculate precisely the route she would have done, although, in fairness: 

  • it did follow the major roads Kathleen would have taken (N154 etc)
  • it took us through Rouen on a new (and better route) to our usual
Once we are here, Kathleen cannot resist a clothes washing frenzy, so that she does not have have to take home dirty washing.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

To St Priest Taurion

Monday 24th April 2017

An early start, for 160 miles to our next stop, an Aire at St Priest Taurion (N45 53.172’ E1 23.785’). 

There are minimum facilities, just the basic waste disposal facilities, but, it is an idyllic spot, on the banks of the River Taurion. 

The Aire is located in the Municipal Sports Ground, for the village (how do they afford to have such facilities?).

There is one Dutch Van there when we arrive, another (French) van turns up later, so, three of us with enough space for probably 10-15.

The lady from the Dutch van is very friendly, we learn she is a Freelance Fitness Instructor, and, Kathleen gets some free exercise tips, which pleases her.

We visit the Village Bar/Cafe and manage to talk French, all be it, not very well, to the owners teenage daughter. She at least pretends to understand us!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Moissac, haircare day!

Sunday 23rd April 2017

Another brilliant day, blue sky, 24C.

The original "plan" was to leave here today, but, it is so pleasant here, we have decided to stay for an extra day.

This does pose a slight problem, today is scheduled to be Kathleen's "hair-care day".

Normally, it has been decreed, on a "hair-care" day, we MUST be a full facility site (ie EHU, copious amounts of hot water, correctly sized and position wash basins, suitable mirrors), but, we are on an Aire, the hair-care process is going to have to be done, using the facilities within the van.

The good news is, it all goes without a hitch, Kathleen even declares it a positive success.

Of course, it was not Kathleen who had to carry 100 litres of water, from the tap, and fill the onboard tank, nor was it Kathleen who had to carry 100 litres of waste water to the disposal point. 

It is possible to drive the van to the service point and fill/empty water, but, that would have meant driving the van with Kathleen in the middle of the hair washing routine, something told me, suggesting this, was not wise.

Maybe, I should have been born an Aquarius, instead of a Libra?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Moissac, Cycling

Friday 21st April 2017

Sunny, blue sky, 20C.

Today is spent cycling along the Canal Lateral de Garonne, in the direction of Castelsarrasin, about 5 miles away, then another 5 miles beyond that, to make a twenty mile round trip, through beautiful countryside.

Saturday, 22nd April 2017.

Blue sky, 25C.

We are enjoying it here so much, we decide to stay another day.

This decision disrupts the Church plan, so, we head off on the scooter to find the Convent Misercordia, where there is a mass on Saturday evening. We find the place no problem, and, the nun on Reception duties is amazingly helpful, even giving us a mini tour of the building! So, that is Kathleen sorted.

We spend the rest of the day cycling along the Canal (22 miles), in the opposite direction to yesterday.

We go as far as Valence en Agen, where there is this amazing fountain, outside of the bar, where we were forced to stop for a cooling beer.

I spend the evening in Bar Compestelle. I make use of my French a la Michel Thomas, to ask for "encore biere, s'il vous plait", only for the bar man to say "un autre biere", which according to Michel, is incorrect!

Either way, I received another beer.

Kathleen does the Church bit.