Category Archives: 2013

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.

 

 

 

 

Bounty Lake (Etang des Chères), Sarthe Department, Sunday 29th December 2013

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Lovely sunny and warm Sunday at Bounty Lake

Lovely sunny and warm Sunday at Bounty Lake

 

We’ve decided to try out this lake about 6 miles (9km) south of Le Mans to see if Adonis is a bit more successful with his fishing, as he hasn’t been very lucky lately. We have provisionally booked for 2 days, but might push another night if weather holds. It’s very quiet here and the British couple in charge, Bob and Les, are very friendly and welcoming. We have water, electricity, a hot shower, the sun has been shining all day and it felt quite warm in the van without any heating until now, 5.30pm, so it’s been a good day.

 

Fishing at last!

Fishing at last!

 

This is, however, the first nice day we’ve had since we left home on Thursday morning, as the weather turned very windy and wet in the evening at Wissant, with the van rocking in the middle of the night, waking us up. In the morning, we saw a branch from one of the trees behind the van had been broken off and had caught in the branches of the adjacent tree, so lucky it didn’t damage either the motorhome or the house in whose garden it stood.

 

A very windy night at Wissant left us this broken branch behind motorhome

A very windy night at Wissant left us this broken branch behind motorhome

 

We followed the same route south as in October half-term, stopping at the motorhome aire at Buchy, just north of Rouen, as we had really liked it then. As we arrived by lunchtime, we took Beano for his afternoon walk through the market town, but as we got to the centre, he was spooked by something and, while I was taking pictures of the market place and Christmas decorations, he managed to pull the lead off Adonis’s hand and I saw him running for his life in the middle of the road heading straight for an on-coming car. I screamed and Adonis waved his arms about to stop the traffic and Beano ran to the pavement, heading uphill back to the M.H. Aire. I ran after him, but he was too far in front and I would have never caught him if it hadn’t been for a kind young couple who saw him coming and luckily stopped him and kept him until I got to them, breathless but relieved to have got him back safe. So we took him back to the van and left him there with his food and water and we went out again to enjoy a coffee at one of the local bars and to continue taking photos of this charming little town. I think that from now on we will remember Buchy as the place where Beano ran off and I nearly had a heart attack!

 

Beano on the lead before he ran off

Beano on the lead in Buchy before he ran off

 

 A Christmassy Buchy

A Christmassy Buchy

 

Welcome to Buchy

Welcome to Buchy

 

The old market place at Buchy

The old market place at Buchy

 

 

Buchy's Townhall

Buchy’s Townhall

 

On Saturday morning, we bought our baguette and cake from one of the boulangeries in town and continued on south, still round the north and eastern side of Rouen, as the Pont Mathilde is still closed until the summer of 2014, and followed the usual route down to Alençon on the D438 and from there on the D338 to La Hutte, where we headed west for about 4 miles on the D310 to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, where we stopped at the motorhome aire by the circus school which John and Julie had told us about, right by the old railway station. This was very pleasant, but the water had been turned off, so we bought 2 5-gallon bottles of water at the nearby Le Mutant supermarket, just to be on the safe side.

 

Motorhome aire by circus school at Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Motorhome aire by circus school at Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Once again, we went to explore the town, but this time we kept a firm grip on Beano’s lead and we even carried him in our arms for a bit when we was reluctant to walk and was pulling back too much.

 

The river Sarthe had burst its banks

The river Sarthe had burst its banks

 

We were amazed to see that the river Sarthe had burst its banks again and quite a few houses seemed to have their gardens and outbuilding under water or badly flooded, so we were worried that Bounty lake, just a few miles down the road, might be the same, but luckily we are all right here.

 

A flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

A flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Flooded gardens and outbuildings

Flooded gardens and outbuildings

 

Flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Flooded Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe is a really charming town and we have fond memories of our first summer holiday in the van back in 2010 when we watched the Football Worldcup final between Spain and Holland and how friendly the campsite manager had been, giving out free beers to everyone. We hadn’t come back since, so I am glad we have now, and we should return again in the summer and enjoy a swim in the river, like we did with Pepo and Bramble 3 years ago.

 

Walking in charming Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Walking in charming Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

 

Today’s been a short drive from Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, back on the D338 and round Le Mans, past the 24-hour racing circuit and back on the D338 to Lake Bounty. We arrived by 11am, with plenty of time for mid-morning coffee and cake, showers and even fishing before lunch!

 

Our parking spot at Lake Bounty, just a few meters away from the fishing area

Our parking spot at Lake Bounty, just a few meters away from the fishing area

 

We hope the weather holds so that we can keep on enjoying the walks around the lake, the fishing and, most importantly, relaxing in the sun.

Merry Christmas

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Not travelling just yet, but I just wanted to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a fantastic 2014.

 

Adonis, Beano and I will be setting off on Boxing Day, 26th December, to spend our first night at Wissant aire, then our second visit to the lovely little town of Buchy, followed by Gacé, just north of Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, and then 2 nights on Bounty Lake, just south of Le Mans, for a spot of fishing, followed by Normandy and start our way back to Calais. We should be back on 4th January.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

 

 

Our front room looking Christmassy. Motorhome can be seen through he window.

Our front room looking Christmassy. Motorhome can be seen through he window

 

Home-made Christmas garland to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas

Home-made Christmas garland to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas

 

 

Berck, Pas de Calais, Thursday 31st October 2013

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Berck seen from the beach

Berck seen from the beach

 

 I am delighted to say that John and Julie were absolutely right in recommending this top aire by the Base Nautique, Chemin aux Raisins, right by the enormous beach and lovely sand dunes, very much like Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. It only cost €6.50 a day and has room for 75 vehicles, but it’s free from November to March inclusive and there’s free water, although no electricity.

 

Berck's motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

Berck’s motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

 

We arrived here at around 1.15 pm, as we decided to do our big shop this morning instead of tomorrow, being Toussaints and a Bank Holiday here and we were not sure if Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer would be open.

 

Sand dunes on Berck's beach

Sand dunes on Berck’s beach

 

We had lunch a bit later than usual, followed by a rest after the long drive from Broglie (3 ½ hours plus shopping time), and have just returned from a very pleasant walk in a very strong wind on the magnificent beach and pier where we were able to have a good look at the seals resting there and, of course, I took loads of pictures!

 

Seals at the end of the pier

Seals at the end of the pier

 

I'll just have a rest!

I’ll just have a rest!

 

It's more fun with a partner

It’s more fun with a partner

 

Mingling with the seagulls

Mingling with the seagulls

 

Beano thoroughly loved chasing his ball on the hard sand despite it being blown into his eyes and getting his fur covered in it.

 

A great beach to chase a ball

A great beach to chase a ball

 

I can imagine what a wonderful place this will be in the summer months too, and again, this is another destination to come back to in the future, whatever the weather.

 

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

 

We also had a lovely sunny day in Broglie yesterday and it was great having a dog again to walk along the Charentonne river, with its picturesque water mill and beautiful views of the countryside around. We met a very friendly Dutch lady who’s moved here and we chatted with her in French for a while, as she spoke very clearly and was easy to understand. She told us she lived in one of the houses on the hill on the opposite side and that she regularly walks the round tour from her house down through the village, to the library by the motorhome aire and through the woods, which only takes one hour, so we might try this when Beano is a bit older and can walk for longer.

 

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

 

 I went to the local bakery for the daily baguette and cakes, then the butcher’s for a couple of delicious fillet stakes, which I cooked and served with chips, salad and bread.

 

Lovely views from the river walk

Lovely views from the river walk

 

The visit to the vet’s was quite straightforward, even though the nurse seemed quite surprised that the rabies vaccine was done in 2 separate doses in the UK and she queried me about this. Other than that, it was plain sailing and Beano is now wormed and ready to return home.

 

The Charentonne river at Broglie

The Charentonne river at Broglie

 

So, it’s Wissant’s aire tomorrow and another long walk on the beach, we hope.

 

Ferries heading for the UK

Ferries heading for the UK

 

La Ferté-Macé, Orne Department, Tuesday 29th October 2013

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The lovely beach on the lake at la Ferté-Macé

The lovely beach on the lake at la Ferté-Macé

 

We are at another beautiful aire at the Base de Loisirs of la Ferté-Macé as a one stop-over before the vet’s appointment at Broglie tomorrow.

 

The lake

The lake

 

We had originally planned to stop further south at Javron-les-Chapelles in the Mayenne department but, although it was pleasant enough, flat and in the middle of the town, it wasn’t really what we are attracted to to spend the day and we thought this would be a more attractive spot for the day. It certainly is charming, as most – if not all – Bases de Loisirs are, and it has the bonus of fishing and a long dog walk around the lake. It is free and it has 6 pitches, but the emptying facilities seem to be at Place de Needstadt in the town itself, not at Parking de la Brochardière, where we are at the moment.

 

Our parking spot at la Ferté-Macé Base de Loisirs

Our parking spot at la Ferté-Macé Base de Loisirs

 

This seems to be the perfect place to come with a young family in the summer, with plenty of facilities on offer like golf, parkour, kayaking, etc as well as a wonderful play area right on the beach for the young ones. It is popular even today, sunny and showery in late October, with quite a few people just coming for lunch and moving on again, perhaps to work, or walking their children and dogs.

 

The children's play area on the beach

The large and well equipped children’s play area on the beach

 

So Adonis’s been fishing and I’ve been walking Beano and crocheting and we are all happy.

 

Walking around the lake at Ferté-Macé

Walking around the lake at Ferté-Macé

 

We had a very easy drive this morning from Pont Réan at Guichen in Ile-et-Vilaine department, joining the D117 to south of Rennes and the N157/E50 due east to north of Laval, N165 to Mayenne and N12 north east to Javron-les-Chapelles. It was still early enough in the morning to try a different destination, so we went up north on D218 and D916 to just north of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne

 

Walking around the lake

Walking around the lake

 

I would certainly like to come back here in the summer months to enjoy that beach and a relaxing day in the sun.

So, it’s Broglie tomorrow and we might try the aire at Berck on Thursday, as John and Julie were quite impressed with it and highly recommended it.

Pont Réan, Guichen Aire, Ille-et-Vilaine, Monday 28th October 2013

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Well, we have survived the storm that was supposed to hit Brittany at 80 m.p.h last night, although we both agree that it had been far worse the night before at Quiberon.

 

We survived the storm at Quiberon

We survived the storm at Quiberon

 

Something quite amusing happened yesterday morning. As we were leaving the aire at 9 am, we encountered a few vans parked around the exit, with a van trying to squeeze out between the bollard and the paying machine using levelling blocks, as this had broken down and nobody could get out. I was told help had been called for, but being Sunday it might take a little while. A frustrated camper tried jumping on the bollard itself to make it go down, but to no avail, but at least it provided a few moments of entertainment. A few minutes later, the gendarme arrived, but he couldn’t do anything either and even tried kicking it, which, of course, didn’t work! The guard finally arrived at 9.20 am and operated the system manually and we were able to leave without further ado. Very efficient, we thought, and we carried on merrily on our way.

 

A wet walk on Port Blanc

A wet walk on Port Blanc

We spent Sunday afternoon and night at the new motorhome aire at Baden, situated on Route de Port Blanc, Kerhilio, at 800 metres from the jetty de L’Ile aux Moines (www.airedesiles.fr) This is quite an impressive and beautifully kept motorhome aire and the 8 daily fee for this time of year included electricity hook-up, wifi and showers, although these were switched off! The water borne operated with a €2 coin and we were more than happy to pay for this, as we were running a bit low and desperately needed a shower. The aire has room for 50 motorhomes, but there were only 3 last night, well protected from the strong winds by the surrounding trees.

 

Stopping by the oyster beds

Stopping by the oyster beds

 

We loved the walk down to the beach and seeing the oyster beds in the fishing village. It was raining quite heavily at one point, but we didn’t really mind as the scenery was so lovely.

Oyster beds

Oyster beds

 

Oyster beds under water

Oyster beds under water

 

We went to Port Blanc after making a final visit to the Carnac Alignments at Kerlescan, with its 13 rows of the best preserved menhirs and the impressive Géant du Manio, which stands 6 metres high, and its Quadrilateral. This is situated just a short and pleasant walk through the woods from the D196 road.

Getting excited about finding the Giant!

Getting excited about finding the Giant!

 

The Quadrilateral at Manio

The Quadrilateral at Manio

 

The Gian at last!

The Gian at last!

 

 

Little me by the Giant of Manio

Little me by the Giant of Manio

This morning, we left in a downpour and got rather wet whilst filling up with water and emptying the grey water tank, but the rain cleared soon after and it has remained a sunny and warm day (22 ºC in van at the moment at 5 pm). We went back on the D101 to north of Vannes, N166 to Bohal, about 10 miles south of Ploërmel, D776 to Guer, D772 to north of Guichen and D577 to Pont Réan, about 6 miles south of Rennes.

 

The motorhome aire by the Vilaine river

The motorhome aire by the Vilaine river and stone bridge

We are parked right by the Vilaine river, with a beautiful and picturesque view of the stone bridge on La Cale de Pont Réan, Rue de Redon. It really is lovely here, with 10 pitches for €5 a day, which is collected by a guard in the evening.

 

The charming stone bridge at Pont Réan

The charming stone bridge at Pont Réan

There are lots of people walking along the river, so it seems to be a very popular place, with a few restaurants and all kinds of shops, as well as canoeing and other water sports. This is another charming stop to bear in mind for future reference.

 

The river walk and motorhome aire viewed from the stone bridge

The river walk and motorhome aire viewed from the stone bridge

 

We are going towards Alençon tomorrow and have already made an appointment at the vet in Broglie for Beano’s worming before returning home on Saturday.

 

The quay and access for water sports at Pont Réan

The quay and access for water sports at Pont Réan

Quiberon, Morbihan Department, Brittany, Saturday 26th October 2013

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Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

 

This has been our first ever day in the Brittany region and we have certainly made the most of it.

 

Magnifcent sunset at Oudon

Magnifcent sunset at Oudon

 

We were woken up at 7.30 am by Beano, who seemed a bit unsettled or upset about something (perhaps the early trains going past near the campsite at Oudon), so we were ready to leave Oudon by 9 am, back on the D723 to join the motorway north east of Nantes at junction 41 and on to the N844/A82/N165/E60 (Why so many names for one road???) towards Vannes and on to south west of Auray, where we headed south west to Carnac on the D768.

 

The Carnac Alignments

The Carnac Alignments

 

With only one break for coffee before 11 am at the lovely aire of Marzan at j.17, over the attractive view of the Vilaine river by La Roche Bernard, we were in Carnac by noon and, after deciding not to stop for the day at the motorhome aire in the town itself – lovely as it was -, we went back on the D196 just north of Carnac to have a look at the famous Neolithic site of The Carnac Alignments, made of thousands of 6,000 years old megaliths.

 

The Carnac alignments

The Carnac alignments

 

We stopped by the Visitors’ Centre at Le Ménec to go around the site and get some information about it. The leaflet says the village of Ménec was built within the enclosure, comprising 71 blocks which almost touch one another. This site currently has 1,050 stones running over a total length of 950 metres.

 

Ménec, built around the megaliths

Ménec, built within the enclosure

 

We really enjoyed our walk in the sun around this fascinating and intriguing site and finding out about their history and purpose. Built between the fifth and third millennia BC by sedentarised communities, the rows of menhirs and enclosures form part of individual tombs (mounds) and collective tombs (dolmens).

 

Some of the bigger megaliths at Ménec

Some of the bigger megaliths at Ménec

 

After our walk around the site, we made our way to Quiberon and, although we tried stopping for the day at various possible wild-camping spots, we decided on the official motorhome aire by the camping municipal de Kerné on Route de Port-Kerné, open all year and with room for 110 vehicles, with water but no electricity at only 6 a day. This wonderful aire is right on the coast and commands beautiful views of the very aptly named Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast.

 

The motorhome aire at Quiberon

The motorhome aire at Quiberon, Port-kerne

 

So after lunch and a little rest, we went for another long walk to enjoy the magnificent coastline and the sheer force of the ocean blowing the foam from the waves over the impressive cliffs, making it look like snow.

 

The wind 'playing' with the foam from the waves

The wind ‘playing’ with the foam from the waves, looking just like snow

 

The wind 'playing' the the foam from the waves

The wind ‘playing’ the the foam from the waves

 

It’s been very windy all day but still very warm, with temperatures in the van hitting 26ºC in late October! I am not complaining.

 

Loving the wind and the sea at Quiberon

Loving the wind and the sea at Quiberon

 

 Tomorrow, we are going to see the rest of the megaliths, including the Giant of Manio or Géant du Manio, which stands roughly 6 metres high! After that, we’re hoping to spend some time in the Golfe du Morbihan, which looks very interesting indeed.

 

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon – more ‘snow’