Monthly Archives: February 2016

Eype, Bridport, Dorset, 15-17 February 2016

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The amazing view from hilltop looking towards Thorncombe Beacon

 

I was lucky enough to live in Dorset for 13 years and I can’t believe we left this lovely English county nearly 18 years ago.  It was in Dorset that Adonis and I met in April 1992 and where our son was born one year later.  We left Dorset for equally beautiful West Sussex in the summer of 1998 for new job opportunities and, although we have been back a few times, we hadn’t actually come for a holiday break, but to visit family and friends in nearby Bournemouth and Christchurch.

 

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The Motorhome area at Highlands End Holiday Park

 

I was reading the Motorhome Montly magazine recently and there was an article about this part of Dorset, also known as The Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site that stretches for 96 miles from east Devon to East Dorset in the south of England.  Reading this article got me thinking about spending a few days here again and enjoy the magnificent views of the coast, where we used to come regularly for long walks, fossil hunting with our son and picnics at the week-ends.  And so it was decided that we would come this February school half-term and relive our memories and make new ones.

 

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Walking on the beach heading west towards Thorncombe Beacon

 

We stayed at the brilliant Highlands End Holiday Park, where we were able to enjoy the various falicilities on site, such as the swimming pool, sauna and steam room, as well as a couple of the local Palmers beers and a lovely meal at the restaurant.  The site is also equipped with a well stocked shop and a gym, but we didn’t feel energetic enough for that kind of activity and opted for long walks intead to get the heart going.  For those with children, there is a wonderful and large outdoor playground with all kinds of activities and for those with dogs like us, a very large enclosed area where your four-legged friends can be let off the lead and run to their hearts’ content and Beano certainly enjoyed it here, as I did the views.

 

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Beano enjoying a long walk off the lead on the wonderful beach, looking east towards East Cliff

 

We arrived at lunchtime on a very sunny and warm Monday and it was such a beautiful day that we skipped our usual siesta time rest and went for a long walk down the hill and onto the beach right below the holiday camp at Eype mouth and towards Thorncombe Beacon.  It was the perfect kind of winter day, warm enough to have a picnic on the beach, but we just enjoyed a couple of hours admiring the cliffs and fossil hunting like in the old days, with Beano off the lead the whole time to enjoy a long run along the beach and meet other dogs.  We returned to base via the South West Coast Path, just off West Bay, with a bit of hill climbing as a final burst of energy before enjoying a beer in the sun outside the van.  Later on in the evening, we enjoyed our lovely dinner of Fish Pie and Ham, Egg and Chips with the local Palmers beer, which sent us to bed quite happily feeling very content with everything.

 

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Fossil hunting. I am not an expert, but this looks very much like a fossil to me!

 

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How about this one? Who thinks this is a fossil?

 

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Could this have been the resting place of an Ammonite? I’d like to think so.

 

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I was also fascinated by the different strata on the cliffs

 

Tuesday was another lovely sunny day and, after swimming a few lenghts of the large pool, we decided to take the cross-country footpath to Bridport, about 6 km (4 miles) round trip, but this turned out to be a labour of love indeed, as the path was in places almost impassable due to recent rain and muddy fields and, on one stretch, it had disappeared altogether and the land was being churned up after a sort of landslide had invaded a barn and, subsequently, the farmer was in the middle of a major clean up operation, but he waved us through when he saw us turning away the way we had come and kindly showed us the way to join the path further on.  The walk to Bristol ended up taking up much longer than we anticipated and thus we decided to come back on the road to West Bay after doing a little shop at Morrisons.  The whole hike took over 2 hours, but the return journey was far easier and enjoyable and gave us a chance to enjoy the little port and seafront amenities of West Bay.

 

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The start of our 2-hour hike. View from holiday park entrance, looking towards Bristol.

 

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Lovely port at West Bay

 

The rest of the day was quite relaxing and still warm enough to sit outside reading with a beer and only interrupted for Beano’s afternoon walk in the magnificent safe enclose on site.

 

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Back up the hill on the South West Coast Path to the holiday Park, looking east towards West Bay and East Cliff.

 

But this being England, one can never get too complacent about the weather and, true enough, Wenesday saw the wind, rain and cold return with a vengeance, which started before we got up and didn’t stop until the evening, taking care of our plans to walk up East Cliff, as I would have loved to do.  Instead, I spend the whole day ‘indoors’ and only ventured out to exercise at the pool and enjoy the steam room for a few minutes.  Wednesday was our last day here, so we never had the chance to go on that walk.  However, this part of Dorset is only a couple of hours away from our house and we can easily return for another short break any time we please, as this will not be the last.

 

 

 

 

Ferme de l’Horloge, Tardinghen, Pas de Calais, Thursday 7th January 2016

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View from Ferme de l'Horloge, looking towards the sea

View from Ferme de l’Horloge, looking towards the sea

 

We are being buffeted by very strong winds on this very wet and wintery day.   We came here after doing our usual shop at Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer and trying the campsite at Escalles, Les Erables, but this doesn’t open till 31st March and, as we still want to have E.H.U, we thought we would give this farm a go.  We are parked behind the large barn, which is sheltering us from the wind slightly, and we have wonderful views of the surrounding fields, woods and even the sea at Wissant!  The light keeps changing with the comings and goings of the clouds, making it all very attractive and interesting to look at and I should think that in better weather it would be just marvellous.

 

The light constantly changing

The light constantly changing

 

Our stop at La Suze-sur-Sarthe was lovely as always and we enjoyed our walks along the river Sarthe before moving north to Rugles, where we were able to hook up again in the free motorhome aire and were glad to find all the shops open this time and treated ourselves to a nice pizza Normande, with lardons and Camembert cheese: simply delicious.

 

Yesterday, we stopped at the aire in Neufchatel-en-Bray and took Beano for his pet passport check-up and tablet and were ready for departure by 10.30am.  I must say here that we had a little panic when leaving the aire, as the automated payment machine wouldn’t accept my bankcard.  Adonis tried his, but it was also declined, but was finally able to pay with one of his Visa cards.  We then inserted the exit ticket into the machine by the exit barrier, but the notice kept saying to insert a ‘valid ticket’ and wouldn’t eject the one I had just inserted.  Luckily, there was a plumber working on the newly built extension to the services hut and he kindly used his staff card to open the barrier for us.  Apparently, we inserted our ticket in the exit barrier machine before approaching the barrier fully and even though we drove right up to it after inserting ticket, it just wouldn’t work:  One must drive right up to the barrier before inserting ticket!  Lesson learned and will remember in future.  Other than that, this is an excellent aire for €13 a night in a lovely town and close to supermarkets and an excellent dog walk just outisde that goes for miles as it is part of a cycling route to Dieppe.

 

 

View framed by our motorhome window

 

Due to the leisure battery playing up, we are thinking of crossing back to England tomorrow instead of Saturday, as there are no more motorhome aires in the area providing E.H.U.

 

Wind still blowing fiercely!

 

Safe inside!

Safe inside enjoying the light!

 

Back to France for Easter holidays, destination: Barbotan-les-Thermes!

Amboise, Indre et Loire, Sunday 3rd January 2016

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Lovely Christmas decorations and lights in Amboise

 

At glorious Amboise again!  We got here just before 2pm yesterday after doing battle with the SatNav leaving Châtillon-sur-Loire and a shop just north of Orléans at Saran North Shopping Centre, which was very good, and then continued on the A10 to junction 18 for Amboise.

 

We had a lovely afternoon and early evening in town, all fabulously decorated for Christmas, and enjoyed a beer sat outside one of the bars by the Château, as it was very warm for this time of year and dry, as well as watching the world go by and taking pictures of the illuminated street with its various Christmas trees, fairy lights, etc.

 

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Fabulous Christmas decorations in Amboise

 

We then strolled gently along the Loire back to L’Île d’Or, where the motorhome aire is and our usual stop here at Place Gaston Pailhou (€12 a day with water and electricity).  We finished the evening with a very tasty king prawn curry we’d bought at Carrefour and a game of cards followed by another episode of Boardwalk Empire before bed: only one more episode to go before the final installment of the series, and very enjoyable it has been too!

 

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Strolling gently back along the Loire

 

This morning, we walked into town again and had a lovely coffee and hot chocolate à la ancienne (traditional) at the quaint Bigot Patisserie and tea room in the corner of Place Michel Debré. It filled up very quickly and all the tables were taken only a few minutes after we got there: I am not surprised, as it really is a very special place.

 

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Christmas decorations by the river

 

We were very glad to discover that the Sunday market was on and bought some black pudding and vegetable fritters for lunch and a tub of paella for tonight.

 

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The brilliant paella stand!

 

On arriving back to the aire, we found our next-door neighbours’ motorhome stuck in the mud and tried to help them using our bread crates, but that didn’t work and the neighbours on the other side joined us too and tried pushing the motorhome all together, but sadly to no avail either.  In the end, the unfortunate motorhomers had to call the rescue service to get out, who came quite quickly, thankfully, and finally our fellow travellers were on their merry way to Normandy as we sat down for lunch.

 

It’s been a very wet day, so Adonis has moved the van forward so that the front wheels are on the tarmac and not on grass in order to avoid being stuck in the morning.  He also took Beano out this afternoon while I caught up on social media and poor Beano came back wet as a drowned rat and covered in spiky seed pods, which were obviously distressing him, and I just had to cut his fur off, as I could not pull them off.

 

After such an eventful day, we are looking forward to our paella tonight and plan to stop at La Suze-sur-Sarthe aire tomorow to make use of their electricity suppy, as our leisure battery seems to be on the blink and we don’t want to take any chances. We will probably use aires with electric hook-ups for the rest of the holiday and have the battery replaced when we get home.