Lac de l’Uby, Gers, Thursday 31st March 2016


Stunning sunset at Lac de l’Uby whilst Adonis enjoys a spot of evening carp fishing


We have been on the road for a whole week now, but we have finally arrived at our holiday destination at Les Rives du Lac, Lac de l’Uby, between Barbotan les Thermes and Cazaubon, in the heart of Gascogne country.  We got here on Tuesday morning, but we had to wait for the campsite to open for the season yesterday, so we spent a very plesant and sunny afternoon at the motorhome aire by the Tourist Information Office in Barbotan les Thermes and gardens before driving to the lake for the evening, as Wednesday morning is market day in town and parking is not allowed there, as some of the market stalls are placed in that car park.  It was just lovely being parked near the lake and we were able to take Beano for a walk along the shore.


The wonderful thermal baths at Barbotan les Thermes

The wonderful thermal baths at Barbotan les Thermes



Early Wednesday morning, we thought we’d make the most of the warm and sunny weather and we walked into Barbotan to buy some food at the market and came back with a tub of Paella, a punnet of delicious ripe strawberries, some radishes and, of course, our daily baguette and cake.


By the time we came back, the campsite had already opened and we duly checked in and set up for the week.  We were able to have lunch and dinner outside in the sun and indeed spent all afternoon and early evening outdoors by the lake, soaking up the much needed rays of sunshine and loving the early spring warmth.


Setting up camp for the week

Setting up camp for the week


Our pitch seen from across the lake

Our pitch seen from across the lake


Adonis got very lucky with his fishing on our first day here and caught a 19 lb (9 kg) carp soon after our evening meal and his luck has continued today with 3 more carp of 17, 25 and 29 lb respectively, even though the sunny weather has left us for now and it has been a very wet and blastery day.  Still, the weather is supposed to improve again for the weekend and we still have another week here, as we are leaving on Friday 8th April.



The first carp of the holiday at Lac de l’Uby in the early evening


On the journey down, we stopped at our usual motorhome aires at Wissant, Pont de l’Arche, where we bought some lovely Nids de Pâques (Easter Nest cakes) for our morning coffee break, Villedômer, Verteuil-sur-Charente and a new one for us, Capian, near Bordeaux.



Delicious Nids de Pâques from Pont de l’Arche bakery


Villdômer motorhome aire, one of our favourite stops

Villdômer motorhome aire, one of our favourite stops


We really liked the aire at Capian, which also offered a nice dog walk for Beano, past the cemetery and on the edge of the vineyards towards the woods at the far end.  We didn’t visit the Châteaux this time as we still had quite a bit of wine from our shop at Bouloge-sur-Mer, but we’ll make a point of buying some of the local products next time we are in the area.


The very attractive motorhome aire at Capian amongst the vineyeards

The very attractive motorhome aire at Capian amongst the vineyeards


We also tried stopping at La Bastide d’Armagnac aire, but it was mainly on grass and, as it had been raining, we didn’t think it would be very sensible to park there, although it would have been lovely in drier weather.  We finally stopped briefly at Notre Dame des Cyclistes chapel, but it was closed and couldn’t visit inside, althogh we still managed a couple of photos outiside in the rain.


Getting wet at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

Getting wet at Notre Dame des Cyclistes


I loved this gate at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

I loved this gate at Notre Dame des Cyclistes


I am afraid to say I have a bone to pick with the Lady of the Cyclists as I had a puncture on my bike this morning on the way back from the wonderful bakery at Cazaubon, just opposite the Château, and had to walk back (about 15 minutes), but Adonis has replaced the inner tube and hopefully, I’ll cycle into Barbotan les Thermes tomorrow and take some pictures of this most charming of towns.

Eype, Bridport, Dorset, 15-17 February 2016


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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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



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



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.



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



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.



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

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


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.



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!



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.



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.



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.




Châtillon-sur-Loire, Loiret, Friday 1st January 2016




Lovely mural by Motorhome aire and Marina at Châtillon-sur-Loire organised by the Arterial Association


We spent a very quiet New Year’s Eve at this superb motorhome aire by the Marina in Châtillon-sur-Loire and we liked it so much, we decided to spend New Year’s Day here too.  The aire is on gravel, with hard standing access and paved areas with picnic tables between the parking bays, all facing the canal with its charming boats and barges, some beautifully decorated for the Christmas festivities.  The payment of €9 for 24 hours is at machine near the Capitainerie on entrance to Marina and it includes water and electricity, for which you first need to know your bay letter in order to activate the electricity power.  There were 3 other motorhomes here last night, as well as people in some of the boats, but is was so quiet you wouldn’t have known it.



Superb motorhome aire by Marina at Châtillon-sur-Loire


Our arrival here was a bit of a labour of love, as access to the town for high vehicles over 2.7 metres is only available from the north due to a height barrier on the south side.  As we were coming from the south east, we were obliged to carry on the D2007 and D952 all the way to Gien, just over 6 miles, to cross the river there and back down south on D951, adding a total of 12 miles to the journey, as well as time.  Still, we were here for 1.30pm and were delighted with the location and thought the extra mileage and time were definitely worth it.



Festive boat on Marina at Châtillon-sur-Loire


We didn’t make it to Chiddes, as we had planned, simply because we needed to do our food shopping for last night and today and we didn’t see a supermarket on the outskirts of Château-Chinon after leaving Les Settons.  Therefore, we continued our way west on the D978 and found an Intermarché Contact in St Benin-d’Azy, where we bought some sakate and cooked crevettes for our New Year’s Eve meal, which were absolutely delicious, and two rump stakes for tonight.  I cooked the skate simply à la Romana and served it with new potatoes and we enjoyed it with a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux and a bottle of Touraine and we had a jolly good time with a game of Cribbage and an episode of Boardwalk Empire before retiring for an early end to the year at the tender hour of 9.30pm!!!


Another charming mural by Marina, Arterial Association


Today’s been a lazy day, as it is meant to be, and Adonis enjoyed a spot of fishing in the morning while I did some crocheting, read my Marie France magazine and revised a bit of German on my new app.




Depiction of Canal by Arterial Association


After siesta, we went for a stroll into town and enjoyed the lovely old houses, Christmas decorations, the stained-glass windows in the church St Maurice and St Posen, dedicated to a 6th century shepherd and hermit, and the original murals all over the town, part of a project to decorate the locality, “Decorer la ville” organised by Arterial Association in order to bring local artists together and closer to the public:  all very attractive and interesting.




Quaint old houses in Châtillon-sur-Loir



Église de Saint Maurice and Saint Posen



Beautiful stained-glass window depicting the Adoration of Baby Jesus by the 3 Kings, very appropriate for the season



Street Mural by Arterial Association project ‘Décorer la Ville’



Mural of Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent some time in Châtillon-sur-Loire




Mural of Postman



Mural of St Posen outside St Maurice and St Posen churcchurchh


Tomorrow, AMBOISE!!!

Les Settons, Nièvre, Wednesday 30th December 2015

Les Settons

Les Settons


We woke up to a beautiful frosty morning in La Porte d’Alsace on Monday, with icicles hanging from the wheel’s arch below the heating outlet, with the thermometer saying -2°C.


We set off on the D419 again and A36 past Belfort and Montbéliard to junction 7, as we needed to do a shop, and tried our luck on the national road D633 and got lucky at L’Isle-le-Doubs, where we found an Intermarché to buy provisions for the next 3 days.  From there, it was a short drive to Baume-les-Dames, which we found covered in frost and were spoilt for choice of pitches at this large aire, as there was only one more van getting ready to leave.  We hooked up and filled up with water and, after lunch, had a lovely long walk along the canal and river Doubs.  The Reception hut at the motorhome aire opened at 5.30pm for payments, by which time there were about 8 motorhomes to stay for the night.  The fee was €9.90, which is a fair price to pay this time of year, as it is good of them to keep the water and services running in freezing weather.


Our spot at aire in Baume-les-Dames

Our spot at aire in Baume-les-Dames


Motorhome aire and Marina from far side of canal

Motorhome aire and Marina from far side of canal


Beautiful colours in Baume-les-Dames

Beautiful colours in Baume-les-Dames


Baume-les-Dames and bridge

Baume-les-Dames and bridge


I loved the original Christmas decorations outside this house!

I loved the original Christmas decorations outside this house!


We left in the morning a bit later than usual to give the frost a chance to melt and carried on the A36 past Besançon and Dole to Seurre in the Saône-et-Loire, where we stopped for the day yesterday.  The aire here has been moved to behind a line of alpine trees and it is not on the Marina itself and, as there was an old caravan parked there, we decided to park closer to the Capitainerie to enjoy the view of the Marina and the river.  This is a very pleasant stop with a nice walk along the river and into town, but not much to do there, as the museum and church were both shut, which we thought would have been interesting to visit. Maybe some other time…


The lovely walk on the river Saône at Seurre

The lovely walk on the river Saône at Seurre


Pretty Seurre on river Saône

Pretty Seurre on river Saône


From Seurre, we followed the D973 past Beaune to Autun, where we had anextended coffee break this morning at the aire by lake and Roman Theatre.  The lake had been drained to get all the fish out, but the walk through the Roman Theatre was quite a treat, despite the heavy fog, and we thought it might be nice to return in spring when the lake has been filled again and to visit the rest of the town.  On the way out, we saw the two Roman Gates too, which are quite impressive.


A very atmospheric Roman Theatre in the fog, Autun

A very atmospheric Roman Theatre in the fog, Autun

The Roman Theatre at Autun

The Roman Theatre with stage at Autun


You have to admire these ancient walls

You have to admire these ancient walls


Close up of Roman bricks

Close up of Roman bricks

Roman gate at Autun

Roman gate at Autun


Roman gate on our way out of Autun

Roman gate on our way out of Autun

Still seeking a lake, we headed north on the D960 to Lac des Settons, near Montsauche-les-Settons, part of the Grands Lacs du Morvan, where we finally stopped for the day and night.  It really is beautiful here and I can see this would be a very popular summer holiday resort, as there are various outlets for boat rides around the lake, as well as bars, restaurants, hotels and a campsite.  We went for a long walk around the lake and both sides seem perfect for a family summer holiday.


Walking around Lac Settons admiring the beautiful colours

Walking around Lac Settons admiring the beautiful colours, motorhome aire in centre background


Light and shade contrast

Light and shade contrast


This gorgeous building houses the Tourist Information Office

This gorgeous building houses the Tourist Information Office


It’s been a bit warmer today, temperaturesrising to 7°C, and we’ve had a lovely sunset.  Tomorrow, we are heading for Chiddes, about 18 miles south of Château-Chinon.

Chavannes-sur-l’Etang, Haut Rhin, Sunday 27th December 2016


Motorhome aire in Chavannes-sur-l’Etang, La Porte d’Alsace


I am happy to report that Christmas dinner was a great success and that the chicken cooked perfectly well in our Andrew James multi-cooker, even if I had to cover it with some foil before placing the lid on top. It only took about 90 minutes and this was followed by the roast potatoes and parsnips, which only took about 15 minutes. On the vegetable front, I boiled some sprouts and carrots and even managed to to make some gravy with some Bisto granules I brought from home. It all turned out rather well and we have proved that it can be done without great difficulty and just a little bit of organisation. The pumpkin soup we bought from the Traiteur was also very tasty and we had this with some fresh pretzels we bought from one of the bakeries in town. Not bad for our first Christmas in the van!


Preparing Christmas dinner in Hymer


Chicken looking good in Andrew James multi-cooker


Enjoying Christmas lunch in festive Hymer


The weather was sunny and bright, around 12°C, and that made the day even more special. The night before Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a lovely view of the full moon and all the other motorhomes decorated for Christmas around us. The temperature dropped yesterday and we needed our hats and scarves to walk into town, but it was still sunny and bright: just perfect for this time of year. It dropped even further last night to freezing temperatures and there was frost on the ground this morning at last!



Full moon on Crhistmas Eve



Other festive motorhomes and full moon at Obernai’s Camping Municipal Le Vallon de l’Ehn


You’ve got to love some people’s festive spirit!


icicles formed overnight above wheels!


The veal pie we bought in the same shop as the chicken was also very good and we still have some left. This was a bit trickier to warm up in the multi-cooker as it was very thick and compact inside and, as I didn’t want to burn the crust, I cooked at No 3 for 20 minutes, but this wasn’t enough and I then tried again for another 15 minutes at No 4; the crust at the bottom burnt a little, but the rest was lovely and hot. Next time, I will cut the pie into quarters and see if that works better.


Reception area at La Porte d’Alsace on a frosty morning


We left Obernai this morning after finding out that barrier at campsite needed a magnetic card to exit, which we didn’t have, and had to wait until someone turned up with one, which thankfully didn’t take too long. That must be a problem for people who wish to leave early in the mornig as, if they have a card, there is nobody to give it to. Being a Sunday, Reception didn’t open till 10am and we were ready to leave for 9.30am, as we had paid the day before. There is a slight flaw in the system, me thinks.

Finding an open supermarket today was our second challenge of the day and we decided to leave the A35 motorway at junction 28 south of Colmar to try our luck in the villages along the national road N83 to Belfort, as we are only about 10 miles east from there. We found no supermarkets open, however, but were lucky to find a bakery on the south sid of Cernay where we bought some orange juice and water, as well as the daily baguette.



Map with walking tours at La Porte d’Alsace


We got here at La Porte d’Alsace for 11.30am and it’s been a lovely sunny day again, reaching 12°C outside and 26°C inside, so no heating needed. We are the only ones here, so it’s been very quiet except for the traffic on the D419, which has been quite busy today. The motorhome aire is open, but the electric hook ups and the water taps have been turned off. Still, it is a lovely spot.

I enjoyed my walk with Beano around the field adjacent to the motorhome aire, except for the final 100 metres or so, where there is no path and, as I didn’t want to walk on the busy road, I stayed on the field and my trainers got clogged up very quickly, making it very difficult to walk. Thankfully, it wasn’t far to go and I rinsed the mud off when I got back to the van: the trainers are as good as new!


Bautiful frosty landscape at Chavannes-sur-l’Eetang


The sun’s going down, as is the temperature, but still blue skies all around. Adonis is putting the windscreen cover on the outside for the first time this holiday, as forecast is 0°C tonight.


Frozen Chavannes-sut-l’Etang in glorious mornig light


I might cook a Spanish omelette to go with the rest of the veal pie tonight and tomorrow we are heading for Baume-les-Dames, about 40 miles south west of here on the way to Besançon.