Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phase 2 of our shake down trip has taken us from just north of the Spanish border to just south of the Swiss’!

Having spent a fabulous week with an old school friend [Mike King] of mine [who I haven’t seen for 40 years!] we headed off to see some friends that we met more recently on our travels in Australia [Paul and Carol Godwin].

We spoiled ourselves with a week (or so) at the beach…lovely walks each day, a fantastic bakery and fruit and veg. shop…what more could we want!! We moved on because there was a kite surfing tournament and the camp site closed!!

We moved along the coast a bit and were amazed to discover walled cities, as this was the extent of the Roman Empire nearly a thousand years ago. They were formidable fortresses, thick walls 20ft high with slits in for the arrows to fly out of, towers at intervals to strengthen the structure and make rooms to accommodate the guards, and we think they must have poured hot liquids through the holes above the gates!! What a welcome!! Aigues Mortes was spectacular as we were able to camp right beside the river, overlooking the walls.

We then visited the Camargue. Having seen pictures of the wild part of this area in books we were a little disappointed to find that it was all very commercialised. However we spent a very happy few days looking at the birds [in a bird park a bit like Slimbridge where the birds are free to come and go].We were especially impressed with the flocks of flamingos and the coypu.

Arles was our next port of call. Another very old city with a Roman amphitheatre as well as high walls, very,very narrow streets, and right on the Rhone. A lovely place, if a bit touristy, but not a great place if there are 3 thunderstorms meeting overhead and you discover there is a hole in the roof!!! It had a great Saturday market, lots of fruit, veg, cheese and handicrafts. There was a great band playing very catchy tunes to amuse us all.

Further on was the Pont du Gard.

Built by the Romans to transport water about 20ks, it is an amazing piece of engineering. We spent a very happy afternoon there and explored it all. Great, as you will see from the photo.

Avignon next. We had to see the bridge…we didn’t sing!! The town itself is another walled town..narrow streets,with a very impressive papal palace.

We thought we would like a bit of a challenge, so drove up a mountain 1909m high!! The road was steep and twisty, and the driving was made harder by quantities of bikes!! Maybe they were practising for the Tour de France, but there were literally hundreds of them. Some seemed to be enjoying the experience, but for most it seemed like an endurance test. The road was good, but steep, and when we got to the top it was freezing cold, with the wind whistling, though that did ensure that it was clear! The downward trail had some scary hairpin bends, though it was nice not to hear the engine struggling!!

We spent a great evening at low altitude; met some very entertaining Americans who have been to South America and know a couple that we met, there, and beside the Arctic ocean!! What a small world! Then we followed a ‘green route’ on our map [green = scenic] and found ourselves in spectacular country, with mountains on all sides, glorious valleys and even windier roads! We actually had to shunt to get round one series of corners…good job we couldn’t see the bottom from there!!!! We met a herd of sheep and goats [with bells round their necks] going to their summer pasture, and there was a lot of fun with the shepherds about needing money for a photo! Judging by the trail left behind them, they must have walked about 10 ks!!

Now we are about to cross into Switzerland, to see some other travelling friends who now have children and live in Bern and Zurich….should be fun!! Then on into Germany…hard life isn’t it!!?

All for now, until next time…..
Mike and Liz

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We have been on the road for 3 weeks now and have visited 2 chateaux, an abbey, a Roman church, plenty of seaside, a Basque pop concert, and the Pyrenees!

We left England feeling a bit apprehensive about travelling again after so long…all is well and we are surviving and really enjoying trundling along in our big truck…we do get amazing views from our windows!!! We spent a few nights in campgrounds and then discovered Aires, areas set aside for ‘camping cars’ where we can stay for 1 or 2 nights free, usually by a river, in the centre of town or beside a beach…great!

Our meanderings have taken us to the Loire where we drove past numerous chateaux and visited 2, one where sleeping beauty is supposed to have been written (you could climb up to the tower where she was held captive) that was still being lived in and had amazing period costumes in all the rooms and lovely furniture…a real fairy castle! The other was relatively unfurnished and under repair….but it did have frogs in its moat, croaking and getting very excited with one another…must have been the season!!!

The Abbay de Fontevraud is really solidly built in about 1100. Eleanor of Aquitaine and her husband Henri II are buried there and their son Richard the Lionheart lies alongside them. Names we remember from our history lessons!!! It was an impressive place full of atmosphere and very peaceful.

After all that history we headed for the beach!! La Rochelle is a pleasant place but even out of season it was busy and touristy. We did meet a South African couple who were pleased to meet some English speaking people and we spent a very happy evening chatting to them and now we have an invitation to stay on the ‘Garden Route’ when we get to S.A.

The Roman church is built on the very edge of the sea in a small village called Talmont. 83 people live there but they have 500,000 visitors annually! Narrow cobbled lanes, white painted stone houses with very colourful flowers everywhere, enchanting.

More beaches, more sun, more baguettes, wine and charcuterie until we were under the shadow of the Pyrenees. What wonderful mountains they are, towering above the valleys, green and lush but still with snow lying on the highest peaks. We were wandering along, decided on a place to stay for the night, but when we got there it was swarming with people. We couldn’t think what they could all be doing, but then realised that there was a Basque festival taking place!!! Well, we thought we had better see what it was all about, so jumped on a shuttle bus to the site!! Set beside a lake there were stalls, beer tents, small concert platforms, a fairground and a huge concert arena with the audience all sitting on the bank listening, or milling around close to the stage!! Lots of people were wearing red berets or scarves or t -shirts with the Basque emblem printed on. There was the smell of wacky-baccy in the air, but it was all quite orderly!! Fancy having to wait till you are 70 before going to a pop festival!! You are never too old for an adventure!!!

Now we are off to visit an old school-friend of Michael’s for a day or 2, then to see some friends we met in Oz for another day or 2. Weather is fine, with the odd thunderstorm; we are having a good time, and hope you are too!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


We took delivery of our new truck on Feb 11th. and set off on the following Monday for a "shake-down" cruise. Everything has gone well apart from a recurring problem with the cooker. This means that we have ground to a halt back in Suffolk until we can get this sorted. It's no fun in a motorhome in winter if you can't even get a hot cup of tea! Here is a link so that you can look at the latest photos.


These photos were taken by Ed, who built the truck for us, and are on his Facebook page. Since he took the photos we have added a matress and a couple of pictures.

More info to follow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mid January Update

Still no further forward with our plans as there has been a dely with the delivery of the truck so it is still a matter of "WATCH THIS SPACE". Have another look around the end of the first week in February.