Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lac des Varennes, Tuesday 25th October 2011


Lac des Varennes in the sun

It’s raining!  It started yesterday evening, stopped after a couple of hours and it started again this morning at abut 11 until abut 15 minutes ago.

It’s 11.40 am and I’ve had a busy morning.  I cleaned the van after breakfast and hoovered dog’s hair, as Bramble is still moulting.  I put the hoover to charge while I walked into Marςon to buy some food for tonight.  I was going to cycle there, but I had a flat tyre, which turned out to be a tear by valve, which cannot be fixed, so I need new tyre.  

The walk to Marςon only takes about 10 minutes and it’s fairly pleasant along the canal.  I bought a fruit tartelette at the Boulangerie and then walked to the other side of the village for the boucherie.  I only wanted a couple of chicken breasts, but lady told me it was only a small chicken and it’d be better to take it whole, so I agreed and she cleaned if for me.  I also decided to buy 1/2 dozen eggs and, everything being free range, cost me a whooping 16.95 euros!!!  I would have never paid that in England, but was too embarrassed to say it was far too expensive, so I paid for this daylight robbery and promised myself not to buy anything else in there again.  I hate being ripped off.

I walked back to campsite looking forward to coffee and cake only to find out that hoover charging has tripped a fuse and now we have no electricity, so we’re running the fridge on gas for  now while Adonis is trying his best to fix it.  This has happened before in Germany and it eventually fixed itself, but it’s annoying and a worry.

I’ll be making a chicken casserole tonight, chicken curry tomorrow and bacon and eggs the next day to make the most of my expensive purchase.

It’s still raining at 11.55 am! NOT A GOOD DAY!!!  

Lac des Varennes, Sunday 23th October 2011


Peaceful Lac des Varennes

It’s only proper I should start this new diary book at this most beautiful campsite on the Vallée du Loir.  It’s just 6.15 pm and I’m making chilli con carne for tonight’s dinner.  Adonis is fishing about 15 metres away from the van and Bramble is lying peacefully licking his paws by my feet.  I’m also enjoying a glass of Cabernet D’Anjou Rosé wine watching the sunset to my right and nothing could be more perfect than this moment.  I must remember this next time I feel stressed out and try and bring myself back here with the power of the mind.

We set off from home in Bognor Regis just before 4 pm and only encountered some minor delays on the M25, but made it with plenty of time to Folkestone and got on the 7.20 pm crossing as planned.  One in France, we just drove to Wissant aire, off junction 40 on the A16 south of Calais and on the D940, between Cap  Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez.  We were there for 9.15 pm (local time) and I quickly heated up a pizza, as it was too late to do anything else.

On Saturday morning we drove to Auchan in Boulogne, junction 31 off the A16, where we stocked up on essentials, wine and beer for the next few days.

Then we carried on merrily on our way on A16 south towards Abbeville, where it joins the A28 southwest to Rouen.  Once again I glanced longingly at the Cathedral I hope to go and visit soon, as it really is quite an impressive sight from the road.

Just south of Rouen, at Château de Robert-le-Diable, we joined the D840 and D438/E402 towards Bernay and finally the aire at Broglie, where we arrived just before 2.30 pm.  After a late lunch of baguette, French cheeses and saucisson, I took Bramble for a walk along the charming Charentonne river and enjoyed and marvelled at the reflections of the afternoon light on the water, as well as the ancient water mill on its banks.

Aire at Broglie

We spent a very peaceful evening and quiet night and we left this morning just after 9.30, after taking pictures to capture the calm and beauty of the place first thing in the morning.

We followed the D438 south, past Alenςon, the D338 towards Le Mans, round the ring road and south by the 24-hour race circuit, except that road was shut due to some sort of marathon and had to take a small detour on the D304 and D140 before being able to join the D338 again at Mulsanne.

After that it was plain sailing to Château-du-Loir and Lac des Varennes, where we arrived for 12.45 pm to find reception closed for 3 hours until 4 pm, so we found our favourite pitch (Number 209) right by the lake and set up home for the next week.

It’s been very hot all afternoon and have been outside until 6 o’clock, enjoying the stunning views from the lake and sunset.

Lac des Varennes October 2011

I finally registered at 5 pm, as there was still nobody in reception at 4, when it was supposed to open.  The bloke was impressed we’d already got our fishing licence from the Tabac at Marςon, which we knew from previous experience: only 18 euros for 2 weeks!

I forgot to get password for WiFi, so must do it tomorrow when I collect my baguette in the morning.



Fishing at Lac des Varennes October 2011

Cap Nature, Audinghen, Cap Gris Nez, Friday 27th August 2010


Baterrie Musee Todt at Audinghen

Here we are again on our last day before our journey back to England.  We’ve just been for a walk with Bramble through the woods, past the Nazi Bunker Museum Todt and its impressive Railway Gun K5.  To our amazement, we discovered 3 more bunkers in the woods, all enormous, and we could see some more from the walls of one of them.  We counted 7 through the binoculars and it really makes you appreciate history and the sacrifice of all the people involved.  We’d like to travel further south along the coast and visit the D Day landing beaches next time, like Omaha.

It’s quite cold in here and I could have done with a pair of jeans, a jumper and trainers for the muddy tracks in the wood, but I survived in my Ripcurl shorts, a t-shirt, a cardigan, my water-proof jacket and my flip-flops. 

We were at Montreuil yesterday, where we took Bramble to vet.  He was much calmer this time round and din’t bolt for door.  It was pleasant enough in the afternoon, but heavy rain hit us after 6 pm.  We took advantage of pizza van in campsite and ordered an ‘Andalucian’ with chorizo and hot sauce.

The German Railway Gun K5


We spent the evening reading, crochetting and looking at maps for future reference.  We had an early night and got up early too.  It was nice to see the baker’s van by reception, where we got the daily baguette from.  We set off just before 10 am and arrived here by 11.  We bought some beer and lovely mango lemonade before walk and are about to have lunch as stomachs are gurgling already.

This will probably be my last entry of this long and interesting holiday.  So until October, then.  Bye.





Batterie Musee Todt, Audinghen




The following entry was written by Peter Saysell (husband)

So 48 days later, after lots of fun, we’re in Audinghen, just outside Calais.  It’s been a really lovely holiday.  We just want to come back again.  Proof, I think that the van life is ideal for us.  At least we’ll be back again in October and this thought always keeps me going at work.  We earn the money there and then enjoy it here.  One third of the year on holiday in France – you can’t complain.  Going to do nothing much for the rest of the day – we have a very early start tomorrow and then home.  5 days and back to school after a special experience.  May write tomorrow!

Neufchâtel-en-Bray, Wednesday, 25th August 2010


We arrived at Camping St Claire about 20 minutes ago after a long day on the A28.  We left  La RaderieCave at about 9 am

Hard standing pitch at Neufchâtel-en-Bray

and tried to stop at 1 pm for lunch at a campsite in Posses, northwest of Les Andelys on the River Seine off the D77, but it was closed for lunch until 2.30 and we didn’t feel like waiting that long.  So we tried another campsite further on and this one didn’t have facilities to empty the toilet or take water, so we set off again for Neufchâtel (exit 9 off the A28, northeast of Rouen) a bit disappointed.

We quite liked the name of the first campsite we tried, being called ‘Les Deux Amants’, but it wasn’t to be.  This one, on the other hand, has lovely pitches on hard standing, hot showers and all the other facilities you expect in a campsite and there is also a supermarket nearby.  I think we’ll do a big shop tomorrow, then get Bramble sorted at vet and move on to an aire or France Passion site for Thursday and Friday.

The other shock we had today was the price of the Auto-route from Le Mans to Rouen: a hefty 36.70 euros!!!  We must avoid this stretch of the motorway at all costs next time!

Pepo phoned and he’s back in the house with Robert.  He tried to trick me saying he was going to have a wild party on Saturday night and asked if we could arrive Sunday instead.  Tired as I was, I fell for it and he started laughing.  I thought I really needed a shower then to wake up!

Cooking some Merguez sausages with left over lamb from last night.  Time has really shot by: only 2 nights left. :((


Cave La Raderie – M Christophe Croisard, Chahaignes, Tue 24th August 2010


Cave La Raderie, France Passion site at Chahaignes

We are at a France Passion site right in the middle of the Loire Valley and very pretty it is too (Sarthe, Pays de La Loire).  We set off at 8.30 am and stopped for supplies at Au Chan, just outside Tours.  Once again, we were dismayed at having to pay 33.70 euros for the use of the motorway from Saintes, but can’t be avoided if we want to make good time.

We arrived here at 2 pm after trying to find a spot by river or lake at Chateau-du-Loir and Port Gauthier, but found that it had been taken over by Country Park, so we used our France Passion guide to find somewhere to rest.

We had lunch, siesta and took Bramble for a walk at 4.30 pm and then stopped in village for beer and at the Cave to buy some local wine (delicious Jasnières Blanc) to take back as presents.  The cave is run by a very friendly wine grower, who made us feel very welcome and we were able to try various wines before making choice.  We are the only motorhome parked here and we are really enjoying the peace and quiet and lovely surrounding scenery.  A place to come back for sure.


Helpful road sign









 Adonis is cooking tonight, some lamb with couscous again, so I’ll probably finish my book.

I must take some pictures of village tomorrow, especially the lovely church with dark spire, as it’s quite quaint and I left my camera behind this afternoon. 😦                                          

Landscape around Cave La Raderie


Picturesque church at Chahaignes

Dompierre-sur-Charente, Monday 23rd August 2010


Wild camping in Dompierre sur Charente.

Here we are again by the bank of the Charente river as we were on 14th July.  We left the campsite at Leon just after 9 am and made it here before 1 pm, so not a bad run altogether, with exception of some slow traffic at the exits near Bordeaux.

It’s nice and cool and much more pleasant than further down south.  We had lunch and a nap and just taken Bramble for a walk and Adonis’s had a swim, so he’s drying outside while I write.

We saw a copule of majestic storks while walking Bramble and Adon managed to take some pictures of them on the ground and in the air.



It should be a quiet night, just heating up some leftover chicken from last nights’s dinner and I’ll be making patatas bravas.  Off to somewhere north of Tours tomorrow, as we don’t seem to be able to come up with a suitable aire where to stop the night.

Swimming in the Charente river


Stork in flight

Storks on the ground



Punta Lago campsite, Etang de Leon, Saturday 21st August 2010


Entry by Peter Saysell

Wild camping at Playa Antolin, Asturias

A hard day!  What should have taken 3-4 hours took 6!  We left Antolin at 8.15 am, no problem, and shot across Spain, but queues and jams at tolls meant getting into France took longer.  We arrived at the aire in 38 degrees of heat, but more jams and no space.  So we had a bit of lunch and went for a swim.  We then spent another hour trying to find a space to stop, but there were none.  

Still very hot, sweating away, we eventually had to go to a site, which is surprisingly reasonable – Punta Lago in Etang de Leon, southwest France (junction 11 or 12 off the  E70/E5).   We’ve got shade and a pool, it’s clean with a big space and your own water supply on your pitch: very good.  I think we might stay another night and then head to Cognac.  Very hot today!

We reckon on getting near Calais for Friday morning should be no problem if the clutch holds.  If it doesn’t, at least it’s easy to fix (I think).  Anyway, still a very very good holiday that we will remember for years to come.  Only a week left! 


Etang de Leon


Pitch at Punta Lago campsite

Playa Antolin

Etang Leon, Saturday 21st Agusut 2010


Paseo Maritimo in La Coruña

Well, a lot has happened since the last entry.  We set off as planned and left Pepo at La Coruña airport and did our shopping in Al Campo, but a couple of hours later the exhaust pipe broke into two just outside Guiteriz and had to be towed back to the nearest Peugeot Garage, which happened to be in Betanzos.  As luck would have it, they didn’t have that particular part, which had to be ordered from Madrid and, being holiday and Fiesta season, nothing could be done until the following Thursday 18th August.  There was nothing to be done but wait and after a telephone call to my sister Nieves and brother Tito, we were back in La Coruña before 7 pm.

We spent 6 days in La Coruña and tried to make the most of the extra time by visiting an Art Gallery, enjoying a beautiful Misa Rociera (Andalucian Mass), sang by members of the Casa Andaluz in La Coruña, walks in the impressive Paseo Maritimo and docks and a couple of meals in nice and cheap restaurants as a thank you to my family for their kindness and welcome.

I particularly enjoyed Magdalena’s and Guillermo’s company, in whose flat we stayed, and getting to know the latter a bit better.  I even managed to show Magdalena how to use Facebook and she was happy to open a profile: I hope she uses it to keep in touch!

Pulpo (Octopus) in Paseo Maritimo

It was funny to have so many people visiting the flat at the same time (14 at one point), like the good old days when we all lived there with my parents.  Unfortunately Magdalena was suffering from sciatica  again and the last couple of days she was in pain and couldn’t join us for the gorgeous Chinese meal, so it was just Adon, Guillermo and I.

When Thursday finally arrived, we were dismayed at the news that the exhaust pipe hadn’t arrived and couldn’t be delivered until 23rd Agust, so nice mechanic offered to weld piece together and it was done by 1.00 pm.  Being lunchtime, we had to wait until 3.00 pm for them to open again and for Tito to come and pick us up.  So, with one thing and another, we were on our way at about 4.30 pm and stopped at Playa Tauran again, as we’d been very impressed by it on the way to La Coruña.

On Friday, we set off for Playa Antolin, just before Llanes, and camped wild right on the beach and, apart from a coupe of irritating neighbours, we had a lovely afternoon and evening.  I cooked a Spanish omelette with pimientos de Padron and had an early night, as we were planning to set off early this morning.

Plaza de Maria Pita

Los Manzanos, Sta Cruz, 12th August 2010


Diary entry by Peter Saysell

Tonight is our last night in Los Manzanos.  It’s been very quiet and relaxing and we have been to the beach and in the sea.  Floppy has been into La Coruña a couple of times and Tito, etc came out to the campsite to have a drink.  The weather today has been a bit cloudy in the morning, but much better in the afternoon.  Everything is charged up and we are ready to go.  Tomorrow it’s off to Carrefour and a big shop and then we drop Pepo at the airport.  He’ll fly back and then we’ll leave for a ‘shortish’ drive to the coast.  We’re not really sure where we’ll be stopping, but I’ve put loads of water in just in case.

Los Manzanos was a good break and, despite lacking a decent dog walk, it was a success.  Tomorrow off we go again!  Only 16 nights left, though: BOO!  A rough prediction is 4 nights across.

Playa de Santa Cruz, Camping Los Manzanos, 7th August 2010


My family in our motorhome

It was great fun last night. Maria Teresa (my eldest sister) turned up at 4.30 pm knocking on the door of the motorhome, which was a lovely surprise.  We walked to the beach with her dog Odin and then she carried on with her walk, while we stayed on the beach, where Adonis had a swim and a very well deserved rest.  She came back at 6.30 as agreed and we started worrying when all the others were late, so she phoned and turned out they were all on the bus, which was delayed due to roadworks (what a surprise!).

They all arrived about 1 hour later than agreed and I showed them the van’s facilities, took a couple of pictures and went for a meal at a bar nearby. It was lovely to see everybody, including Tito (my youngest brother) and his girlfriend Sonia, as I didn’t know they were coming too, and, of course, it was a pleasure meeting Emilio (my nephew in law) and seeing Susana (my niece) looking so happy after their recent wedding in May.

So we had gorgeous ‘raciones’ of local specialities, like pulpo, chipirones, ham and cheese, fish croquetas and fish pie (empanada gallega).  I ate so much I wasn’t even hungry at breakfast or lunch.  Magdalena (my 3rd eldest sister) wrapped some left-overs in serviettes, which we had this lunchtime.

Enjoying local specialities

After the meal we said our goodbies and agreed to meet on Wednesday or Thursday in order to have another meal before we go back east.

We took Bramble for evening walk and enjoyed the stunning sunset by La Torre de Hercules, of which I couldn’t resist taking several shots.  Then we went to bed and heard the fireworks going off, but too tired to get up and watch.

We got up at 8 am and set off at 9.15 to do big shop at Carrefour.  Then we got lost when we took the wrong lane on the motorway and ended up using TomTom to get us back to Montrove, where we were able to follow road to Oleiros and find campiste at Santa Cruz.  It’s a gorgeous site, although it’s changed since we were here 8 years ago.  We’re camping under some elm trees with some welcome shade and have been to the lovely beach and pool.  We’ll be here for at least 3 days, although I’d like to stay longer if Adon agrees.

Sunset in La Coruna

Sunset by La Torre de Hercules




I am cooking tuna steaks for Adon and myself and noodles for Pepo!