Monthly Archives: November 2011

Montreuil-sur-Mer, Thursday 24th February 2011

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Montreuil-sur-mer city walls

 

 

Here we are again at the charming and welcoming site of Les Fontaines des Clerks.  We arrived very early, just before 11 am, after usual breakfast, emptying toilet and dirty water and stopping for bagette on the way.

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee and cake time

 

I must mention that I made it my mission to try as many cakes from the various boulangeries-patisseries we visit as we possibly can and so far the tarte aux framboises (raspberry tart) wins hands down, followed closely by pistachio mil-feuille.

Nice and lazy day today with usual walk around city walls and a stop for money and beer.  I cooked merquez and couscous and just finished the Paris-Brest cake from yesterday, delicious again, with a distinct flavour of hazelnuts.

 

walk around city walls

 

 

I’ve made very good progress on my crochet t-shirt and I’ll be reading a bit more Brando’s biography, ‘Songs my mother taught me’ (which I am really enjoying), later on.

The weather has been much better than yesterday – no rain at least – and much warmer.

view from city walls

 

 

 

Adonis’s been suffering from sciatica and he’s planning to go to the doctor’s when we get back home.  Pepo’s having a great time in Scotland and Bramble is going to the vet’s first thing tomorrow.

 

 

Le Crotoy, Wednesday 23rd February 2011

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Wet day at Le Somme

A very wet and miserable day today.  We emptied grey water tank, filled up with fresh water and set off just after 9.30 am with the idea of stopping at Ault and having a walk in the bird sanctuary, but weather was so unpleasant and the aire facing medical centre so unattractive that we decided to go on.

We had a look further up north at Cayeux-sur-Mer, but we didn’t like the hefty fee at campsite of Vieille Eglise, so we carried on back to this lovely aire at Le Crotoy, where the views are so lovely and it’s easy to walk Bramble.

It hasn’t stopped raining, so not very inviting out there and Adon took Bramble for afternoon walk while I continued with my crochet.

It’s 5.15 pm now and we are thinking about going out for a meal tonight, which is the only thing that’s going to drag me out there today.

 

 

 

Pepo seems to be having a good time in Glasgow and Edinburgh and we’re keeping in touch by texting, which is a lot cheaper than phoning on mobiles.

 

 

We just liked this fishing boat

 

Adonis finally found out that problem with heater was a blown fuse and luckily we had spares, so it’s nice and warm now.

 

A ray of sunshine in the rain

St Valerie-en-Caux, Tuesday, 22nd February 2011

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Motorhome aire at St Valerie-en-Caux

It’s 6 pm.  I’m cooking Bolognese sauce and Adonis is trying hard to get the gas heater going.  It’s been working perfectly till now, but it’s just decided to play up after our afternoon walk.

A lovely day so far.  Got up at 8.30 am after a very quiet and dark night in the Forest of Eu and were on our way by 9.30.  We had a quick stop for bread and cake, made appointment with vet for Friday at 8.30 am and carried on the small road to Dieppe and then on the D925 to St Valerie.  We found marvellous free aire by the pier,set up, had coffee and went for long walk around Marina.  Came back for lunch and siesta and then I took Bramble for a short walk on the seafront under the cliffs that look just like Dover!

 

 

Adon put the hot water on and we both had a shower.  I even managed to wash my hair, which is quite a treat on this type of holiday.

I’m just looking out of the window and command a wonderful view of the cliffs, Falaise d’Amont, and the sea: all for free!

 

 

Marina at St Valerie-En-Caue

Cliffs at St Valerie-en-Caux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After shower we went to have a beer at the hotel de la Poste in front of the Town Hall, just to the side of the marina, and sat outside:  first time this year!

St Valerie-en-Caux pier and aire from the cliffs

Now waiting for Bolognese sauce to cook and Adonis to stop worrying about heater.

We might go to bird sanctuary north of Crotoy tomorrow, Parc Ornithologique du Marquenterre, back in the Bay of the Somme.

No luck with heater.

Haute Foret D’Eu, Monday 21st February 2011

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Wild camping at Foret d'Eu

We’ve just been for a long walk through the forest at the height of Queen Mother’s Walk, which was opened to celebrate her 100 birthday.  It started off very well, but it wasn’t a circular walk and we ended up walking on very muddy-churned up tractor marks lane.  Thank God for my Hunter boots!

We saw the Entente Cordiale with the oak and the beech trees entwined to symbolisie the ties between France and Great Britain.

Queen Mother's Walk with Entente Cordiale at Foret d'Eu

 

 

 

 

L'Entente Cordiale explained

 

 

 

 

 

We also went for another long walk this morning in Mers-Les-Bains and admired the beautiful Art Deco houses along the sea front, each house a different colour imaginable.  I wish I was a painter: I could have a field day here with the colours and shapes of these magnificent buildings.  Apparently these house form part of some National Trust type of institution and are not allowed to be altered in any way.  What a brilliant idea!  That means that generation after generation can enjoy them as they were built originally.

Mers-les-Bains seafront houses

 

Mers-les-Bains seafront houses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mers-les-Bains

It was late morning by the time we got back to the van, so we skipped mid-morning coffee and drove here.  I was starving by the time we stopped, so we had lunch earlier than usual and a little siesta before afternoon walk.

Adonis is cooking tonight, so I might get on with my crochet or my reading: I’ll see how I feel.

Le Crotoy, 20th February 2011

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View of Le Crotoy from the motorhome aire

Half-term holiday in France again, this time in the Somme.

The quay at Le Croto

So here we are at the Crotoy in northwest France.  We set off from home yesterday at 12.30 pm and it was all plain sailing all the way to Audinghen, at the France Passion site in Cap Gris-Nez.  We did our shopping in Cite Europe, then drove down to our night stop: first time we’ve driven in the dark.  I warmed up a cheese tart, which we served with saucisson and salad,  and had an early night at bout 9.30 pm.

Got up at 8 am, had breakfast and did usual tidying up and were on the road again at 9.30 am.  It was a lovely drive on the N940 south, past Berck (with a slight diversion) and on to Le Crotoy.  I just want to mention how the signposts let us down again with little warning and ended up in Le Touquet before joining route to Berck, etc.

We finally made it to this fine spot just before 12 noon, went for a wander in town and bought some ‘moules’ for dinner, which I’m about to cook.  This a very large aire, with room for at least 50 motorhomes, free this time of year, but 5 Euros a night during the high season.  There is also a charge of 2E for water, as it is common in many aires.

The Motorhome aire at Le Crotoy

Le Crotoy is a lovely sea-fearing little town, famous for having been the imprisonment place of Joan of Arc, to whom there is a monument dedicated near the sea front.  Fish restaurants are the attraction here, so I expect we’ll enjoy a nice seafood meal before we leave.

Joan of Arc Monument at Le Crotoy

Got back to van for lunch and while Adonis had a siesta, a started crocheting my new project: a summer t-shirt.

The large aire at Le Crotoy

We’ve just been for long walk around the Bay of the Somme, and very beautiful it is too!  Just having aperitif before dinner and early night again, I expect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are not sure where we are going tomorrow.

The Bay of the Somme

 

Canterbury, 3rd January 2011

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I just love this sign outside campsite

We spent the morning shopping in this lovely old city and I bought my own copy of Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’, which I really look forward to reading.  It’s funny because there are different versions in various English styles, from the ‘almost impossible to understand’ original to more modern interpretations, so I bought one in between.  We also bought new kitchen scales at half price and some presents for Peggy from the Cathedral’s shop (a very pretty candle holder and an angel Christmas decoration based on the stained windows pictures), which I think she’ll appreciate.  I also bought a delayed guide to the Cathedral, so I’ve been reading about all the art works we saw yesterday, but now I’d like to go back, as we missed the crypt and the outside of the building because it was getting late.

The Old City Centre

1500 buildings in city centre

Historic Building of Kent

We are off for a Moroccan meal tonight and tomorrow we’ll be driving to Bexhill, on the A259, which will take us all the way home!  Weird that this road passes outside our house!  I must rush off now, as we don’t want to miss the bus, as there won’t be another one for another hour.

Festive lights in city centre

The Cathedral at night

As we arrived in the city early in the evening, we decided to have another look at the cathedral in the night light before going to the restaurant  and what an experience that was!  The Cathedral’s illumination is just a sight to behold and it gave us the feeling of being in another world.  We felt a bit naughty walking around the cloister and felt like playing hide and seek in all those nooks and corners, with their eerie archways and vaults.  It was just like going back in time, all the more special as we were the only ones there!    We also heard the choir practising and stuck our ears to the locked door to enjoy this beautiful music that could have come directly from Heaven.  I could have spent all night exploring this magnificent monument.  I wonder what secrets it holds!

Evening illuminations

Perfect place to place hide and seek in the cloisters

Intrisicate arch work in the cloisters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, the meal at the Azouma Moroccan restaurant was absolute superb, with a shared starter of assorted samples from the menu, followed by lamb kebabs and tajine . I highly recommend it if you are ever in Canterbury.

Fab meal at Azouma Moroccan restaurant

Canterbury Club Site, 1st & 2nd January 2011

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Canterbury Cathedral

Happy New Year and second decade of the 21st century!  We’ve decided to have a little break after Christmas to help with the anti-climax which is this period after Yuletide season that gets me down every year.

I’ve been wanting to visit this city for a number of years and I’m glad we are finally here.

The Portico at Canterbury Cathedral

We left home at 9.55 am and got here at 12.30, so nice and easy drive, with little traffic on the roads after last night’s celebrations.

It’s a bit drizzly and cold out there, but niece and warm in the van.  We’ve just had lunch and Adon is trying to get wi-fi, but apparently it’s £5 an hour and no way are we paying for that!

We’re going to take Bramble for a walk and then a little sleep before cooking dinner.  Cathedral tomorrow!

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2ndJanuary 2011

Had a lovely day in Canterbury today.  We walked there and back, as it’s just under half an hour’s stroll.

The spot where Thomas Becket was murdered shown by a candle

As we got into the city, the church bells started ringing, followed by the Cathedral’s, so I couldn’t think of a more welcoming gesture.  We decided to stay for the Sung Echarist service at 11.00 am, which was most enjoyable and sung by an excellent choir.  I felt really privileged to be there, so close to it and to the Altar itself and the 75 minutes flew by.

After the service, we went on a tour of the Cathedral and saw, amongst other wonders, the tomb of the Black Prince, on whom, Adon tells me, ‘Black Adder’ was based, as well as the tomb of Henry IV and his wife, Joana of Navarra.

The Black Prince place of rest

The Black Prince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Prince's Achievements

 

This was followed by a nice pint of ‘Wolf Coyote’ from Norfolk in the pub right opposite the Cathedral, which was exquisite.

 We then got some bread, salami, wine and a paper in M&S and walked back to campsite.  We had lunch and I walked Bramble around vineyard outside campsite, followed by a little siesta – first time in ages – and then coffee and shortbread.

Adon is cooking his Moroccan lamb tonight, so I’ll get on with my reading.

 

Stained glass window

 

 

Apparently the site has taken charge of wi-fi and they are now selling cards for £2 a day, so we’ll get one tomorrow.

The pulpit

 

 

Montreuil-sur-Mer, Monday 1st November 2010

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We are now at La Fontaine des Clercs campsite again and it’s warm and dry, unlike the last time we were here and, instead of having a take-away pizza from delivery van, I’m cooking a paella with the remainder of my pork and bacon as probably the ‘last supper’ in the van on this break.

Morning light at Juno

We had a lovely walk this morning on Juno beach with a beautiful diaphanous light that I’d love to capture in a picture if I had the right knowledge and equipment. 

Cosy's Bunker

I took more pictures of ‘Cosy’s Bunker’ from further down the beach as it really showed it tilted and half buried in the sand.  I also took a picture of Canadian double cross and flag as a sign of respect for the brave fallen soldiers all those years ago.

 

Canadian Double Cross and Flag at Juno Beach

We set off in this direction at around 10 am and had a job parking just to buy a baguette in the various little towns on the way.  We finally managed to find a spot in Pont L’évêque, but had to queue behind half a dozen people, and more came behind me.  Maybe it had something to do with being ‘All Saints Day’ bank holiday, as I’d never seen that before.

 

Pont de Normandie

Then we carried on to Pont de Normandie, where we crossed the magnificent bridge over the estuary, overlooking Le Havre on the left and the Natural Reserve of the Seine Estuary on the right: a stunning sight in its autumm colours.  We made good progress on almost empty roads and got here before 2 pm.  We set up, had lunch, siesta, paid the receptionist our standard 18 E, took Bramble for a walk around old city walls (which we all love), had shower and sat down to read and relax and then cook.  We are now waiting for the first paella I’ve ever cooked in my new ‘paellera’.  I look forward to the results.

Autumn Colours at the Seine Estuary

Off to vet tomorrow morning at 8.30 and then Calais, although we are thinking about having a look at Touquet Paris-Plage first, as we don’t want to arrive at Citi Europe too early and I’d rather spend the morning somewhere more scenic and riveting than Carrefour car park.

Le Touquet Paris-Plage

Juno Beach, Sunday 31st October 2010

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Omaha Beach

A very busy day today, especially as the clocks went back one hour, but we still got up at usual time, an hour earlier than we should have done.

So we’ve had loads of time to do interesting things, like ‘walking the dog 3 times’!!!  During the first walk, about 8.30 am (9.30 for our body clocks), we went back to the sea wall defenses and took some more pictures in the morning light with hardly anyone around: much better for photography purposes.

 

 

 

 

Omaha American Cemetery

We then drove to Omaha American Military Cemetery, where we arrived soon after 10.00 am.  Words cannot describe the feelings experienced at the sight of all those perfectly lined-up crosses, most with names, but a large number (1,600), without: “The fallen comrades whose names are only known to God”, as the crosses and the Memorial Monument say.  It’s profoundly sad, truly humbling and it rends you speechless, with a big knot in your throat.  It certainly puts everything into perspective and it makes you realise how precious, fragile and special the freedom we all enjoy in the western world today really is and never to be forgotten or taken for granted.  So this 5th November, when we all wear our poppies and remember the fallen soldiers, it will definitely mean a lot more to me.

 

 

'Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God'

 

Omaha American Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that almost surreal experience, we drove to Juno beach, where we arrived at around midday and have spent the rest of the day.  We had a beer, lunch, siesta and then visited the Canadian Museum, just a couple of hundred metres down the beach.  Again, another very interesting visit, finding out about the history of Canada and its participation in WWII.  

The Canadian Museum at Juno with remembrance stones

After that, we took Bramble for another walk on the beach and discovered more German pillboxes hiding in the dunes. 

I’m cooking chicken breasts à la Oriental, with garlic, ginger, onions, soy sauce and sesame oil.  I bet it’ll be 100 times better than that awful pork in Arromanches.

 

 

Back to Montreuil-sur-Mer tomorrow for visit to vet on Tuesday.

Longues-sur-Mer, Saturday 30th October 2010

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Wild camping in Longues-sur-Mer

It was a quiet and restful night at Arromanches aire, even though it was full.  I woke up half way through the night feeling hungry after my meager supper at the bistro, but managed to hold on till breakfast, which consisted of lovely ‘lingots au chocolat’ and coffee.

Soon after 9.30 am we set off to visit the D Day Museum, which was fascinating, as expected, with its video of how the Mulberry Harbour was built in Britain in pieces and brought to these shores on ships: what a vision of that great man, Churchill!

Plaque outside D Day Museu

Mulberry Harbour from cliff top

We also visited the 360º cinema showing the film ‘The Price of Freedom’, again very moving and humbling and well worth a visit.  You stand in the middle of the auditorium and you feel as if you are on one of the landing ships, with guns firing at you from the beach and cliffs ahead.  You are also surrounded by aero planes, deafened by the noise of the engines, but being part of the battle at the same time, viewing the land from above.  You see people and animals and it’s all extremely real.  It really brings into perspective the horror that these incredibly brave young men went through and the sacrifices they made for our freedom.  I don’t think I will ever forget that harrowing experience and I will always feel grateful to those men I never met for having the freedom to travel and enjoy Europe as I please.

Mulberry Harbour from a distance

After that, we strolled on the beach back to aire, taking more pictures of the remains of the Mulberry Harbour in better light, as it was a beautiful sunny and warm autumn morning.

We then drove to Longues-sur-Mer, where we parked for the rest of the day.  We had usual lunch, siesta and another walk to see the numerous German batteries and pill boxes on the cliff top, still in extraordinary good condition, guns and all, as if it had only been left yesterday!  They were obviously built to last!

German Pill Boxes

We also walked down to the beach and admired the cliffs formation from below.  Back in the ranch, we read for a bit and we’ve just finished dinner of cassoulet for Adonis and remainder of ‘Spag Bol’ for me (much better than the rubbish I had last night).

I am about to finish my Florence Nightingale book and, as every time I come to the end of any book, I feel a bit sad and don’t want to finish it, but another good book will follow, no doubt.

Gun

 

 

 

German Bunker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remains of Mulberry Harbour in better light