Season cut short

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Maybe slightly surprisingly, we have packed up and left Vilanova Park for the season and we are now briefly back in Dundee. This decision to come back two and a half months earlier than usual is due to our forthcoming five weeks trip to America which will start on 24 April when we fly to San Francisco. Our thinking was that it was a waste of money to continue to rent our pitch right through to the end of August when in fact we would only actually be there for about three weeks. As a result of this, we cancelled our annual contract and reverted to our previous month-by-month rent of a pitch which we could stop whenever we wanted by leaving the campsite.

Of course, the downside of this was that we had to disassemble everything and put the caravan back into storage. This proved quite a challenge this year as we had our floor in the awning which we had put down two years ago. The floor consists of three sections of 2.5m x 3m solid wood built pallet-style to raise the walking surface four inches off the ground. As each section is a 4-person lift, there was simply no obvious place to put the floor while we’re away and I had to establish a storage deal with the campsite authorities to take it away and bring it back when we return.

This done, we still had to get all the belongings we were leaving into the caravan. With hard work by Mary and me, we succeeded, dismantling the kitchen table and putting it on the bed via the bedroom window. We also slid our washing-machine through the front window and set it down between the benches minutes before we left. We have since been informed by our friends on the campsite that both caravan and floor have been removed from the pitch since our departure and are now in storage.

Heading up into the Massif

France NOT Holland!

Our journey back to Scotland in the Audi was trouble-free and at times a real joy for us both, especially as we drove through the countryside of central France between Clermont-Ferrand and Rheims up in the Champagne region. We crossed via the Channel Tunnel once again and then had our only bad moments as we drove clockwise round the M25 and up the M40 towards our hotel in Stoke-on-Trent. That traffic was horrendous, some of the worst and most stressful we have experienced, and Lady Burton’s heart-rate was over one hundred for much of the way, witness her FitBit.

Millau Viaduct, the highest bridge in the world.

The magnificent Puy-de-Dôme

It gets exciting here

Waiting to go through the Channel Tunnel

The Ashford Horse welcomes you to the UK

Welcome home!

The final leg back to Dundee was punctuated with a visit to our dear friends Mike & Het whom we had recently visited on their campsite in the Algarve. A couple of hours at their house in Kendal involved much chat, many laughs and an excellent, healthy lunch which set us up nicely for the rest of our journey home. By seven o’clock that evening, we were enjoying the delicious dinner Mary’s Mum had left in the flat for our return. Thanks Mum! We’ve been back four days now and already it feels like we’ve not been away! Mary has had two events with her family and I’ve spent an afternoon with young George and both of my grandchildren, Ben and Ari, I’ve had an evening in my local pub and we’ve visited Renée and Stef my cousins after mass yesterday in Blairgowrie.

Well, now I want to let you know about our American trip. As you already know, we fly out on 24 April to San Francisco where we’ll have four nights’ stay (I hope I don’t leave my hat there!) before flying down to San Diego where we hire a car and drive up to my cousin Steve’s place in San Marcos. We’ve arranged a couple of things with Steve and his family but on 2 May we’re going to drive back to San Diego to spend our twentieth wedding anniversary on our own (Stop it!) and do things we want to do with no commitment to others. On 4 May, we’ve booked a whale-watching trip in the Pacific which we’re really looking forward to. After a couple of further nights in San Marcos, we’ll be saying goodbye and driving up to Las Vegas for three nights. This is of course a must-see when you’re in that part of the world but I warn you that what happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas but appear on this blog!

After that it’ll be three weeks of seeing Mother Nature, starting of course with some time visiting the Grand Canyon then moving on North and East to Monument Valley, Canyonlands and Arches before swinging back round via Bryce National Park, Zion and Sequoia National Parks and Death Valley and back to Las Vegas from whence we fly to New York and on to Edinburgh on the first of June.

This will be the last journey of our year of travelling. My thanks to Lady Burton for giving up her job to come with me, and I’m delighted to report that she has secured her job in Vilanova again, starting on 3 September 2018. I’ve worked out that, if she works ten hours a day, seven days a week for nine months, she’ll earn back all the money we’ve spent on our travels in the past twelve months! This is also our way of confirming that we’re definitely returning to Vilanova for at least one more year. Friends Mike & Het are also coming back, at least for the autumn, Tom & Margareth will be there and I think Fred & Jeanette will also be there, assuming all goes well with Fred’s recovery from his motorbike accident. Joke & Walt will be back if the latter’s treatment for his illness turns out to be a success, so we’ll be keeping them in our prayers for the foreseeable future. They recently sold their caravan and accessories to Don & Sally as it doesn’t look likely that Walt will be able to handle caravanning any more, although their intention will be to come back and live in a chalet on the campsite. Darren will still be there when we get back as well as Don & Sally, and I think Jeremy will be returning at some point.

My next post will be from the U.S. so it will be in a funny accent! See y’all!

What was he hauling??

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Home Again

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Preparing to leave.

                       Preparing to leave.

Once again, we’re back home for the summer. Well not exactly “home” as that implies we’re back in our flat which we aren’t. That’s because it is still being rented out, so we’ve come back to Scott’s flat in Stenhousemuir. We’ll only be here a couple of nights before moving to Mary’s brother’s house in Tayport while they’re away on holiday. Then we plan to have 2 weeks in the magic caravan on a site in Alyth. That’s the theory anyway!

We left Vilanova last Friday morning and drove up into France before heading inland at Béziers on the A75. This road passes over the famous Millau Viaduct, the highest in the world, which we’ve crossed 4 times now. It’s a splendid sight indeed and we managed an on-the-move shot for you to see.

Nice, eh?

                       Nice, eh?

After that it was up, up, up to 3500 feet and back down again leaving us at our first stop which as usual was the Ibis Budget hotel in Clermont-Ferrand. We use this hotel whenever we can as it’s ideal for travellers with lots of facilities all within walking distance of it. This time we decided to have our evening meal in an Irish pub a short distance away and it turned out to be a great choice as both the food and drink were excellent and the prices, while dearer than Spain, were not ridiculous.

After a good night’s rest, we filled up with diesel and headed for Paris (not the city, just the region) which always holds a few surprises for us the nearer we get, as the traffic slowly but surely builds up the closer you come to the city itself. But, having somewhat stumbled via the navigator on Mary’s iPhone onto a big Route Nationale, we crept into the outskirts at Creteil (Thierry Garnier and his family weren’t in!) – that will only be funny to someone who studied French with Tour de France book – slid underneath the runway at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, before bolting away from the chaos to much quieter roads leading north out of the French capital.

Our second Ibis Budget hotel was in the little town of Noyon, about two hours from Calais, so just about in the perfect spot to stay before crossing back to the UK. It even had a McDonald’s opposite it which made choosing where to have tea an awful lot easier than it could have. One triple cheeseburger and chicken wrap later (guess who had what!?) I was in the room watching the Germany v Italy quarter final game while Lady Burton surprised us all by reading a book!

After a spot of continental breakfast on Sunday morning, we had a very pleasant drive up to the Tunnel Terminal at Sangatte where the hordes of refugees throwing bricks, as prophesized by our neighbours back in Vilanova, totally failed to materialize, leaving us to peer through the miles of scary razor wire to see if we could clock even one such person. No luck – they had obviously packed their bags and gone home! Half an hour later and we drove back onto British soil for the first time in 10 months. The Audi remembered to stick to the left which was just as well because I barely gave it a thought.

Our first task was to drive to Ashford International Train Station, which you should all note is NOT the Tunnel Terminal, to seek out one of Mary’s colleagues from Global Connect in Vilanova. She was meeting us there to collect her dismantled bicycle which we had brought to her in the back seat of the car (yes, honestly!). So, she got her bike back and we got a thank-you card and a bottle of wine. After the bye-byes, Victoria steered us back to the M20 which led us to the Dartford tunnel underneath the Thames.

Now, this crossing has changed recently. You probably know the tunnel is North only these days while the traffic heading South uses the Dartford bridge only built a few years back. But you might not know that the toll-booths have gone! Before you start celebrating a saving of £2.50 on the crossing, I should point out that you still have to pay, except now you do it online or at one of those pay-points you see in shops and post-offices. You can pay in advance as I did or pay within 24 hours of crossing, after which they slap a nice big fine on you. I even bought 2 crossings as they last up to a year from the date of purchase and will probably use it when we go back.

Once the Dartford tunnel and the horrendous M25 were behind us, it was plain driving up the M11 and A1M to Leeds and Terry and Ellen’s. We got there on the stroke of five, at the exact same time as cousin Angela and her family whom I saw greeting cousins Gillian and David and family. My God, they were all going to have dinner with us! What a splendid surprise that was and we had a great catch-up at the dinner table. Uncle Terry was looking 100 times better than when we’d seen him last September and he told us he is getting over his various challenges slowly but surely. Auntie Ellen was as ever quite wonderful and she served 14 of us with a feast fit for a family of Burtons.

The Brexit vote dominated the conversation and we were delighted to learn that the family were like us sad and embarrassed by the result to leave and even more so in the immediate aftermath when it emerged the Brexiteers didn’t have a clue what to do next! Let’s hope common sense takes over and some really intelligent people find themselves at the helm of our country because we are going to need true statesmanship from now on and an end to the self-seeking, arrogant so-called politicians on all sides who are happy to bring the country to its knees as long as they do well from it. Rant over!

A good sleep, a slap-up breakfast and we were off again, but this time a relatively short distance to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales near Skipton where we had arranged to meet our dear friends Het and Mike Farrington from Kendal. It was brilliant seeing them again back here and we had a lovely time walking around 2 particularly popular spots in that area as well as enjoying a picnic they had kindly prepared for us. The weather held for most of the afternoon but then turned decidedly British towards four o’clock, calling for waterproofs and coats, but it failed to spoil a delightful afternoon in the English countryside.

Malham Cove

                     Malham Cove

The other place, whose name escapes me!

The other place, whose name escapes me!

Same place

                       Same place

We finished our walk with a cup of Yorkshire tea bought at a nearby caravan café and we all seemed to be well happy with our day as you can see.

Me, Mary, Mike & Het

                       Me, Mary, Mike & Het

That evening, our hosts served us up a delicious healthy meal, sensitive to my new regime. They were there at the campsite the evening I took a wobbly so they knew what it was all about as regards my diet these days. Well done, my friends. We gossiped until our eyes were all closing then got off to bed for a welcome sleep and long lie. The following day we went for lunch in a place called Staveley at a café where Mike’s sister works. Incredibly, this is the exact same place Mary’s brother Bruce and his family are coming on holiday next week!

The bridge over the Kent

           The bridge over the Kent

After a short stroll we headed back to Kendal where the girls went shopping in town while Mike and I checked out a couple of hostelries. We chanced upon a rather cheeky pint of Theakston’s IPA which was so good that even Lady Burton had a half-pint when the girls eventually joined us. Mike and I also strolled around Kendal while he pointed out all the damage caused by the terrible flooding of last winter. I’m glad to say the town has recovered well and most of the damage has been put to good. We stopped by a huge bike shop to let him have a look around and I spotted a strange sight which Mike assured me is a perfectly functioning bicycle. Does this look OK to you?

No front fork?

                  No front fork?

Then it was back to their house, a few laughs, dinner (Mike burned the Yorkshire puddings which could then double as Frisbees!) and bed. The following morning was seriously downbeat, a late full English breakfast, a couple of hugs then back on the road, this time to Scotland.

A glorious sicht!

         A glorious sicht!

So that’s it. We’re back for 2 months, culminating in Greg and Karen’s wedding on 2 September. We’ll be busy no doubt but the time will fly in and before we know it we’ll be back on the road to the other place we call home. Exciting, isn’t it? I leave you with something that made us smile while down in Yorkshire.

A woolly jumper!

                      A woolly jumper!

 

 

Day 3/10: A New Beginning

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The third year of our Great Adventure almost didn’t get started last Monday when we prepared to leave Dundee before ten in the morning. Goodbyes to Scott, breakfast taken, snacks prepared, bags packed by nine-thirty seemed promising enough and, with the help of the lift and the Audi parked at the back door to the block, we were in the car with fifteen minutes to spare and I proffered our now traditional quote “Let’s go to Spain”. But when I turned the key there was nothing! Unbelievably and for the first time since I bought her almost 3 years ago, the Audi failed to start!
Even more worrying were the flashing symbols on the dashboard telling me my “Electronic Stabilization Programme” was goosed as was my ABS and my particulate filter! This was indeed Armageddon! Back up in the lift we travelled with faces like torn scones and help was sought from Mr. Google. There was a suggestion that it was only a flat battery causing all these alarms to go off but we were nothing if not pessimistic as we agreed to call out Saga rescue in the form of the AA, the first time in our driving life we had ever had to do so.
A yellow angel appeared within the hour and quickly confirmed the problem was not terminal but merely battery level too low. You could have heard our sighs of relief over here in Spain. The AA man assured us that the fault lights were not reporting major malfunctions but just responding to lack of juice, so he wished us “Hasta la Vista” and sent us on our way only two hours behind schedule.
Despite the false start we made excellent time southwards and, thanks to the lovely Victoria whom we once again pressed into service to keep us right, we reached RVI (the Royal Victoria Infirmary) in Newcastle in time to have a blether with Uncle Brian who has been poorly of late, before he was discharged back home with Auntie Pat. We were absolutely delighted to have seen them and have the opportunity to wish them well in the weeks to come. Back on the road, it took us another hour and a half to make it to Terry and Ellen’s in Leeds, our regular stopover when driving to the continent.
As always, the family hospitality was first class and my Dad’s brother and his wife were wonderful to us. We had a great catch-up before retiring for the night and Ellen sent us on our way late on Tuesday morning with a full English designed to keep us going for the whole day. It did! Thank you both for your unfailing kindness. We took the A1M down to London, snaked over the Dartford bridge and cruised the M20 to the Tunnel at Folkestone, although Victoria was naughty and took us initially to the International station at Ashford. Please note that, no matter what your Tom-Tom may advise, only leave the M20 at junction 11A and absolutely nowhere else: if you do so, you can’t go wrong, I promise.
With the usual smooth, simple and trouble-free crossing, we were speeding through the countryside of north France by eight in the evening (their time) and reached our first stop, an Ibis Budget hotel in the wee town of Laon just before ten o’clock. Two minutes later we were sound asleep, slept like the innocents we are (!) and were up and ready to rock and roll at nine the next morning. Except that the Audi decided to repeat Monday morning’s performance, leaving us trying to roll-start the car in the car park without success in the torrential downpour written into the script by a God with a weird sense of humour.
Seeing me come close to drowning, a cleaner came out and marched me 500 metres to the equivalent of our Kwik-Fit/Halfords and got me a loan of a pair of jump-leads at the price of my driver’s licence. We finally got the Audi running again and took it back to the car shop where they gave it the once over while Mary and I sat a few metres away in a McDonald’s having cheeseburger and chips for breakfast! Quite tasty that was as well. The diagnosis was as expected and I had to stump up £100 for a brand-new powerful battery which will reputedly outlive both of us. We’ll see!
The rest of Wednesday was a long drive round the bottom of Paris then down the A10 to Clermont-Ferrand our second stop. Motorway tolls came to 40 Euros on this stretch so don’t forget to factor those costs in when planning your route through France. We stayed the night at another Ibis Budget hotel in Sud-Aubiere to the north of Clermont-Ferrand (the third time we’ve stayed there) and found it as before perfect for our needs. We can recommend this chain of budget hotels to all you Francophile travellers: 40 Euros a night, en suite facilities, TV, vending machines for tea/coffee and snacks and free Wi-Fi.
The last leg was similar to last September, a long but easy drive down the A75 (toll-free), over the spectacular Millau Viaduct, downhill to Béziers, west to Perpignan, then through the Pyrenees to Spain, an hour and a bit to Barcelona and a final half-hour to our second home, Vilanova i la Geltru. Victoria displeased me a tad by insisting I drive through the centre of Barcelona at rush-hour instead of our usual route round the back of the hills via Vilafranca en Penedes, so here’s another Tom-Tom alert to ignore instruction if your setting is “fastest route” as you approach Barcelona from the north. Where the carriageway divides, stay right in the direction of Tarragona and you’ll avoid Barcelona altogether and you won’t lose any time either.
Excitement peaked as we turned into the drive of Vilanova Park campsite and found ourselves expected and welcomed by familiar faces at reception. When we reached our pitch on F block, there she was, our lovely new caravan, facing the wrong way but still looking great. We quickly levelled her off, spoke to a couple of old friends who came down to welcome us back, then it was early to bed with no intention of rising before 10 the following morning. We discovered we could sleep for Scotland!

Day 2/288: Channel

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I am writing this on the 8.30 ferry out of Caen heading for Portsmouth. We booked a cabin for the crossing and that’s where Lady Burton is just now, in the shower and probably doing girly stuff. I’m on deck 8, at a table having polished off a full English half an hour ago. The sun is pouring through the large windows, warming my skin and just making me feel good after a 6 a.m. start from our campsite in Saint Aubin sur Mer where we stayed last night.

OK, we admit it. We’ve broken the bed in the Magic Caravan! Unfortunately, the reason for its collapse is entirely due to the pull-out slats having broken free from their fabric links allowing them to move so that they fall off the supports either side. Boring, isn’t it? I’d love to tell you different but there you have it.

On Wednesday we left Pamplona and drove north to the corner, squeezed past the Pyrenees and entered France. A long boring drive across Les Landes took us past Bordeaux and then up the Gironde estuary to Saint Palais sur Mer, a place we’d been to twice before. On Thursday we visited the town, looking in on Erwan Ansquer’s family restaurant and giving in to a dip in the sea at 6 in the evening. It was certainly colder than the Med but we managed a 10 minute splash around before returning in time to watch the demise of England in the World Cup.

Tired out with the driving, we changed plans and drove only as far as Angers on Friday for a simple overnight stay. I did however remember to take a photo of the cheeky wee salad we had for tea.

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The final drive through Northern France and right up to the English Channel was done yesterday. Our campsite was a huge Yelloh Village site with all mod cons but we left it behind in the early evening and headed for the beach front to have a look at one of the places the allies (mainly Canadians) crossed to on 6 June 1944. This walk proved really interesting but in addition we saw 2 separate concerts as it was the Longest Day and therefore La Fete de la Musique in France.

Back at the Magic Caravan, Mary busied herself while I watched Germany take on Ghana, a cracking good match by the way. And that was it. Early to bed by our standards, a fitful sleep and an early rise.

We are now approaching the Isle of Wight: it’s got white cliffs too. Next blog will be from Dundee …………… Maybe!

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Day 2/1: Off again!

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So, we’ve left Dundee behind, driven down to Hull, taken the overnight ferry to Zeebrugge and then cruised through the Ardennes to the town of Troyes, east of Paris. We’re staying in a city centre Ibis budget hotel which is perfect for our needs and I’ve just demolished a Chinese takeaway! It has been very, very warm today with temperatures in the low 30s and still the high 20s here at 11 o’clock in the evening.

Bye! Bye! GB

Bye! Bye! GB

The crossing was smooth although the vibrations coming from the engines were a little OTT and must have kept some of the light sleepers off their kip. Fortunately we were both pretty catatonic and slept like logs (wooden not mathematical ones). Come to think of it, even those wooden ones don’t sleep. do they? But we did sleep the sleep of the just and the innocent and that really helped on the 6 hour drive south today. Being incredibly tight-fisted, we avoided all the motorways and enjoyed the pleasures of the hills and rolling farmlands of Ardennes. How beautiful they are! Our comfort was ensured by the Audi’s a/c system which kept up a constant blast of chilled air to stop us from roasting in our own juices inside the car.

I must admit that the trip from Hull to Zeebrugge was a bit of a bargain so I have no hesitation in recommending it to all who may wish to take a drive on the continent. The one-way trip for 2 people and a car came to £139 including a 2-berth overnight cabin with en suite. Take the saving on diesel off that as well, not to mention the nervous energy. I bought the dinner/breakfast combination on board (£24) and that got me an all-you-can-eat dinner last night and a full buffet breakfast both continental and cooked this morning. Great value!

Speed bonny boat!

Speed bonny boat!

Tomorrow we drive down to Nevers to visit the incorruptible remains of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, will try to pop in on my cousin Renée’s cousin on her father’s side who lives in Magny-Cours (famous for the French Grand Prix), then it’s up into the Massif and Clermont Ferrand before stopping overnight in another Ibis hotel, this time in Issoire on the way down to the Millau Viaduct again.

As we had an hour to spare on our way to Hull we tried to pop in to see Uncle Terry and auntie Ellen in Leeds. Oh, we saw them alright, except it was in Ward C3 of Chapel Allerton Hospital where Ellen is recovering from a replacement hip operation she had on Tuesday. What a brave person she is, and what a happy welcome she gave us when we strolled in. It was nice to see my cousin Gillian too, no matter how brief our visit was. I wish all my family in England the very best (as long as you don’t win the next World Cup!)

I offer a welcome to anyone new to the Blog. Although I won’t be posting every day, I will keep you up-to-date with year 2 of our adventure with 2 or 3 posts a week. Remember to keep the comments flooding in as we really enjoy reading what your take on things is while we’re so far away living with Johnny Foreigner!

A special kiss for our 2 brilliant grandchildren, Ben and Artemis. We love you dearly. XX

We’ve been in Troyes for 6 hours now but still haven’t seen the wooden horse. I’ll ask at the Greek restaurant!

 

Day 282: How to avoid Paris

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Boy, did we sleep well last night! Maybe it was because we were sleeping in a bed we didn’t have to build for the first time in three months. Or perhaps it was the 600 or so kilometres we had driven during the day to get to Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central. Whatever the reason, we appreciated the recharge our batteries were given and we bounced out of bed just after eight, had breakfast, packed our things and headed north.

Passing Vichy

Passing Vichy

The first thing of note was passing Vichy, the erstwhile capital of supposedly unoccupied France during WWII and home to the administration of collaborators who shamed France during the conflict. Next it was a place we were genuinely tempted to stop at: the town of Nevers, home to the sanctuary of Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes whose reputedly incorrupt 130-year old body still lies in the Chapel of Saint Gidard at the Sisters of Charity. We decided to write this one down as a definite must-see on our return journey in September, so drove on towards Paris.

Never say Nevers!

Never say Nevers!

Capital Letters

Capital Letters

Mary took over the driving just past Nevers and she did very well indeed until we started to meet the Parisian traffic just outside one of our favourite spots, the chateau of Fontainebleau. That called for me to assume the wheel again and maybe just as well because it got really hairy for the next hour until we had skirted the south of the capital, swept round its eastern perimeter and then moved off towards Rheims and our final destination for today, the small town of Laon where we had spent the night on a previous visit to France many years ago.

Moulin near Moulins

Moulin near Moulins

The new town is called Soissons Neuf!

The new town is called Soissons Neuf!

Unlike last night, there were no accommodation problems to be dealt with as the hotel we had chosen had loads of rooms available and we were soon settled in. I had 40 winks while Mary got online using the free Internet connection and when I awoke we drove the short distance to McDonald’s where I had my tea. While I munched on a couple of cheeseburgers, Mary called her Mum and sister Claire to let them know how we were progressing on our long journey back to Scotland.

Back at the hotel we did our own thing until fatigue started to get the better of us although we had enjoyed an evening of our favourite music which I organized in random order to keep the surprises coming. We marvelled at Mama Cass singing “Dream a little dream of me”, welled up at John Lennon’s “Woman”, danced to Oasis’ “She’s Electric” and dreamt of being home listening to the Proclaimers’ “Sunshine on Leith”.

Anyone need a DJ?

Day 281: Bonjour la France!

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Having actually set an alarm to ensure we were up nice and early, we were both awake and sitting waiting for it to go off at 07.30! All those final kind of things were done, spare food was distributed, umpteen neighbours came to say farewell and have a safe journey and I went and passed on my condolences to my French acquaintance whose wife had the stroke yesterday. The news was not good however and her paralysis up one side has already been classed as irreversible. Poor lady!

Our nearest neighbours, Mike and Heather, waved us off along with the big Dutch lad next to them and that was us on our way out of Vilanova Park and up the hill to the caravan storage. At least that was what we thought! When we got there, the place was deserted and no amount of horn-blasting succeeded in raising the owners, so we detached the Magic Caravan and left it at the farm while we returned to the camp site to get help. They did contact the owner who promised to open the barn immediately, but it was a bit embarrassing to meet Mike and the Dutchman up at reception, having just wished them a pleasant summer!

Back we went, and this time our beloved home was put into a nice, cosy barn along with a dozen other caravans and motor homes with whom it will share the next 3 months. We were sad to leave it there but at least it will be protected from the blazing sun and the other elements. I checked it was all locked up and then we were off again, this time to “Simply” to get a few bits and bobs we thought would come in handy on the journey. Finally, at just after eleven, we hit the motorway and headed for France.

Montserrat

Montserrat

Do we smell garlic?

Do we smell garlic?

We made excellent headway in the good weather, crossing the border and getting as far as the A75 at Béziers where Mary took over the driving for the next 100 kilometres to give me a wee break. This meant that she became the first of us to drive across the famous Millau Viaduct at the Gorges du Tarn, an absolutely fantastic spectacle and one which persuaded us to pull into the visitor centre on the north side. We walked up the hill of course to take in the brilliant view of this modern miracle of engineering and we took some good photos as you’ll see.

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Crossing the Millau Viaduct

And look who's driving!

And look who’s driving!

From there it was up into the Massif Central, reaching well over 3000 feet at times and then steeply downhill to our destination just south of Clermont Ferrand.

The top of the Massif A75

The top of the Massif A75

On the way down we stopped at a McDonalds and had our tea. Guess what? When we arrived at our chosen hotel, an entire school party were just checking in, having booked all the available rooms! Fortunately there were 3 other hotels in the precinct as is often the case in France and we found a room at a “Quick Palace” motel.

A great place for breakfast?

A great place for breakfast?

The room is tidy and clean, we have our own bathroom and shower, the TV works and the Internet is fast and free. That explains why I’m able to do this post at roughly the usual time. I hope I manage to put on the photos because I think they’re really good.

Can we extend a special “thank you” to Marion & Mel for following our blog all the way from day 27 in Ochsenfurth to its near conclusion now? We are delighted they found it interesting enough to keep up with the adventure. Please accept our kind thanks for your faith in us.

I hope to be writing tomorrow’s blog just east of Paris but can’t say for sure. On verra!

The Millau Viaduct

The Millau Viaduct

 

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

 

Look! A water spout!

Look! A water spout!

 

 

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