Sunday, 18 April 2010

April 14th 2010 - April 18th 2010

 Les Rosiers-sur-Loire � Le Val de Loire � ACSI 2010-963

They must have the BBC doing their weather forecasts here, because the forecast was for sun with a little cloud and 18C. We got full cloud cover, and about 14C, although it did become sunny by about 15:30.

French time is one hour ahead of UK time (ie when it is 08:00 in the UK, it is 09:00 here in France. Kathleen does not change her watch (no, I do not understand why) so in the morning she gets up according to UK time, ie 08:00 UK, 09:00French, and in the evening she goes to bed on French time ie 11:00French, 10:00UK), so it is difficult to have an early start, (unless I go without her).

When I unloaded the bicycles off the back of the van, I found that mine had a puncture which was too big to repair, fortunately I had a spare inner tube. Whilst I was in the process of fixing the tyre, we were approached by an English couple, asking if we had found any good cycling here, since we had not actually got out yet, we could not offer much information.

We eventually got on our way at about 10:30 and cycled across the bridge over the Loire to Gennes, then along the Loire to Saumur.

Unfortunately, the cycle track we scouted yesterday did not go all of the way to Saumur, so it was about half road and half cycletrack, but the road (D952) was almost traffic free, so it was no problem to cycle along it.

Here is Kathleen forging ahead on one of the off road sections with the Loire just visible through the trees to the left.

There are picnic tables at various points along the way, and we stop for lunch by the banks of the Loire, all very civilised. 

The total distance, there and back, plus a bit of exploring was 28 miles, it was a very enjoyable day, not a word of complaint from anyone.

Saumur is a pleasant French town, most of which is located on an island in the Loire. The Loire at this point is very wide, even although we are quite some distance from the sea, with grand bridges linking the island to the two opposite banks.

There is also an imposing Chateau, although it closed to the public at the time of our visit. It is still possible to wander around the grounds, which include a (drained) moat and a series of fortifications.

We arrived back at the site to find we had new English neighbours (from Devon), so that makes at least six English here, including ourselves.

We decide to head further south, partly to chase the sun and warm weather, and partly to meet up with a couple (Lyndon and Carol), who we first met up with in France on one of early trips. We know they arrived in France the day before us, and are just slightly further south than we are. Kathleen is very keen to meet up with them. It does not occur to her that perhaps they are trying to avoid us, I notice in their texts, they have avoided telling us precisely which site they are on! (only joking).

Up prompt, rather than early and away south. It is quite a long stretch so we split the driving, Kathleen gets the short straw and has to drive around Bordeaux. We stop at a Le Clerc en-route and are able to buy some Liptons tea bags. They are not upto the standard of Asda teabags, so I will have to make do with them, leaving the small supply of the Asda ones for Kathleen.

We approach Bordeaux on the N10 with Kathleen driving, first crossing the River Dordogne before it joins up with the River Garonne to form the River Gironde.

Crossing the River Garonne as we go round the orbital motorway to the west of Bordeaux, with Kathleen driving.

For any of you who have been stuck in the traffic today, just to show the roads are not always empty here, the traffic begins to build up as we go around Bordeaux.

Leave on the A63 heading South West, just like driving in England, except the road signs have more numbers on them, because the French show the European system of road numbers as well as their own. Well they have to do something with all of that cash they gain from being in the EU.

This area is called Les Landes de Gasgoine, it is very flat, a bit like Norfolk but with more sun and more trees.

The sun is shining and it is quite warm, like a good summers day in England.

Biscarosse - Mayotte Vacances ASCI 2010-1023

The site is located on a lake, but only a short distance from the sea. Everything works, and it is clean and tidy. But it is clearly geared up for family entertainment. At the bar, you can have �free� wifi for the price of a drink. The barman even loans us a suitable electric lead so that we can plug the laptop into the mains and not be limited by the battery time. The intention is to update the blog and make a couple of Skype calls. However the downside is, the children�s entertainer is so noisy it is not possible to hold a conversation on the skype, so we give up and retire to the van.

We have a text message from Lyn and Carol, they are proposing a meeting at Bidart, near Biarritz, which is on our intended route, perhaps they do want to see us again after all, there is no accounting for taste.

It is a short hop to Bidart, mostly along a motorway standard stretch of the N10, so no rush to get away, and we arrive by 13:00.

Bidart � Ur-Onea � ASCI2010-1021

We are now in the Basque country, hence the strange campsite name. Like our Celtic friends back home, they have this absurd obsession with having all of their place names and road signs in two languages (French and Basque here), which just makes life more complicated. I should not mock, how long before we have our road signs in English, Urdu, Arabic etc, just to extend �diversity�?

The site is pristine.

We have arrived first. As we are in the process of getting ourselves organised we meet Sam, who comes from near Colraine, Northern Ireland, and is in the process of checking out the vacant pitches. Sam�s main concern seems to be where he will find a bar showing the coming Manchester City / Manchester United match. I am impressed by the way in which he has been allowed to choose a pitch by himself, it is not usual for such responsibility to be devolved to the husband or male partner. But sure enough, shortly afterwards, his wife Alice turns up to vet his choice and make the actual decision.

Lyn and Carol arrive, we chat for most of the afternoon, and toast ourselves in the sunshine, turning a nice shade of pink in the process.

This will mean a return to the creaming of the legs routine. Which at least means the Tomtom will be left to get on with it.

In the evening we talk a walk into Bidart and explore our surroundings. This includes the inevitable search for a church, which we duly find, with masses on Saturday at 18:00 and Sunday at 11:00. It is a lively village, with a beach and promenade.

Saturday morning, the plan is for us to take the bus to Biarritz, whilst Lyn and Carol exercise their two dogs.

Things do not go according to plan.

We miss the 10:53 bus, and decide waiting for the next bus (12:23) is not an option. So we walk into Bidart where we find there is a market in full swing (what fun). Fortunately we meet Lyn and Carol on their way to do the dog exercising, so we enjoy the market from the vantage point of a pavement bar (definitely the best way to see a market, French or otherwise, as far as I am concerned). Kathleen and Carol spend their time updating each other on what is happening in their respective families, including our new grandchild and impending new grandchild. Lyn and myself, discuss the important matters of what has gone wrong with the UK, our thieving politicians, the price of gold, and which shares might make us a few pounds.

Kathleen and I eventually wander off to find something to eat (a bottle of Rose, Pizza, followed by Strawberries and Cream, and very nice too), whilst Lyn and Carol, continue with their intended walk to exercise the dogs.

Suitably repleat, we return to the van to lie about in the sun, it is a hard life, but someone has to do it!

A good day, so far, the missing teabags have only been mentioned about five times by late afternoon.

We spend a very pleasant evening drinking wine and chatting with Lyn and Carol, eventually being forced indoors at about 23:00, becuase it is too cold to stay outside any longer.

Sunday, it is time to say our fond farewells, Lyn and Carol are off to join up with some other friends, Terry and Ingrid, to continue their trip into Spain. It being Sunday, Kathleen is off to the church at 11:00, and I while away the morning in the town square, alternating between reading my book and watching the world go by.

After church, we linger in the pavement cafe overlooking the square with a glass of rose, before returning to the van for a leisurely lunch and more lying about in the sun.

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