Artie & Chris on tour 🗺

Artie & Chris on tour

Spain and France in the Campervan 2011

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Day 19 – Going home
Posted on May 3, 2011 by vosselnewmans
Left early at 8.30 with the Tunnel only an hour away and we hoped to get an
earlier shuttle than the 12.20 we were booked for. And we did. We were checked
in on the 10.42 but as it happened we even got on the earlier one at 10.20. And
this is where I’ve been writing up the last couple of days, making good use of
this “dead time”. We have just arrived, it’s 11 French time, 10 o’clock
English time so it’s time to shut down, adjust the clock and I’ll tell you
the rest when we’re back home.

And back home we are now, it’s Tuesday morning and I’ve got 177 unread
e-mails to look forward to 😉 But as I’m very well rested I’m curious to
see what gems will be lurking in the inbox – bring it on!
So I’m signing off from our adventure – a really nice trip that we both
enjoyed. We’ll probably do a final reflection on our individual highs and lows
some time and also either upload photos here or put the link in to a web album,
not sure yet but the writing is done so I say au revoir, adios and thanks for

It’s an “Au Revoir” from him and an “Adieu” from her ?!!!

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Day 18 – Dieppe – Le Touquet
Posted on May 3, 2011 by vosselnewmans
We left around 10 again, sun shining, and headed for Le Touquet, which had 2
aires that we were hopeful would be ok. It would only take a couple of hours and
so we bimbled along on the D roads, filled the van up for the last time en route
and got to Le Touquet around 12.30. We inspected both aires, the first one being
next to the Yacht harbour and slightly out of town, the other one being a bit
more central and cheaper too so we went for that. Found a nice shady place under
the trees, got ourselves organised, took Gypsy for a nice walk along the mud
flats and she managed to have a quick swim in the sea too and so we were ok to
leave her in the van while we took the bikes into town at about 2.

You remember my promise to have a strawberry sundae before going home? so this
was my last opportunity. The town has a very busy 3 or 4 roads, running towards
and parallel to the beach and fairly at the beginning of our exploring, we were
“enticed” by a French woman to come into her restaurant. I said I was after
Ice cream so she got the menu and there it was – peche fraise – €8,
that’ll do! Chris wasn’t really keen on staying there but he agreed to stay
for a drink so I could sample this delight – “home made” by our tourist
trap queen. Well what can I tell you – what a disappointment! Home made my
arse (excuse the language) the ice cream was not nice and there were only about
3 strawberries in there. But at least I had fulfilled my promise and it was a
great spot for some people watching and Chris enjoyed his beer so not all bad
– oh yeah, and the sun was shining too! Having paid up we strolled through the
streets some more, went as far as the beach promenade (very large sandy beach
– I guess one of the main attractions of the place, full name of which is Le
Touquet Paris Plage) and were on the lookout for potential eateries for the
evening, this being our last night we thought we’d go out. But as we hadn’t
had any lunch we bought a baguette, a tarte au sucre and a bottle of wine and
went back to the van around 4.

We had a little picnic and, fatally, the bottle of Muscadet we’d bought that
that was me finished for the day. A) my stomach rebelled after the food
combination I’d subjected it to that day and b) I was now feeling really tired
after the wine. Still we were planning to go around 7 and that was that. But the
later it got, the windier it got and before you knew it, we had another
thunderstorm on our hands – marvellous. So out went the plans to go out, and
raiding our food supplies we came up with spaghetti and tomato sauce as our
celebratory final meal… This may sound disappointing to you but in fact it was
a good decision as we could stay with Gypsy who would have otherwise missed out
on being with us for the last evening and that wouldn’t have been right. As I
was still feeling a bit queezy it was an early night for me and thus the end to
a fab holiday.

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Day 17 – (Royal Wedding Day and Jocki’s Birthday: 29 April) Marcon –
Posted on May 3, 2011 by vosselnewmans
This was going to be quite a long haul so we left earlyish (at 10), having
picked up our croissants from reception (the first site that had offered this
service – very civilised!), Chris emptied, the Chemical toilet (mmm… lovely)
and we were off. Initially the weather was ok and we kept going till about 1pm
when it was time for lunch. A Restaurant right next to our road looked the
business and we went in there. And what can I tell you – the table we chose at
the far end, had a TV next to us which I could see and what was on? the Royal
Wedding! Chris was appalled that I would be watching this, having chosen to get
away from it, but when it’s there, on your plate, or next to your plate in
this instance, I thought it would have been foolish to ignore such a historical

So we enjoyed our plat du jour, pork chop with boiled potatoes, with a bottle of
cidre and du l’eau, and I would give Chris a running commentary on what was
going on. We (or I) just saw them coming out of the church, riding to Buck house
and getting out again – perfect timing.

Quick word from Le Homme: Huddled in my corner trying to ignore the “Royal
Overkill” .. its the excessive, pointless commentary that most hacks me off..
I had already had received a well deserved shin kicking for my versions of some
the “Royal Vows”.. one was something like:

“I, Katherin, promise to be one of the Royal hangers-on and thus contribute to
the waste of the limited nation’s resources… I promise to procreate, as
often as necessary, to provide another generation of in-bred half-wits to
replace my dopey husband and then go on, verily, to end it all, in royal divorce
and so supply further unnecessary, scandalised brainless headlines for the
gutter press and the ongoing royal soap … etc etc”… as you may guess my
views of the Royal’s is a wee bit cynical, but hey i’m a grumpy old git, so
it’s permitted, what?

Anyway, there I was quietly minding my own business and muttering to myself when
some old french hag sidled up and started gushing over us how wonderful and
romantic it all was and how lucky were all are to have the Queen blah blah
blah…. well, I think you will be impressed. I actually held back my immediate
response as to how I admire the french republican approach in many ways and
particularly the positive contribution to society made by Madam Guillotine, but
I swallowed it down, smiled and said something like “ Yes, we are lucky
aren’t we ?”… and I suppose when you reflect on it, Mrs Queenie is a damn
site better than President Jacuzzi or some of the other idiots around n’est
pas ? Rant over: I return the saga to my bestest mate…

A quick coffee to wake us up and then it was my turn to drive. The plan was to
go to Rouen but we didn’t have an Aire or an Acsi site that we could go to so
the next best thing was the Tourist information office which would have taken us
straight into the centre. By the time we got near the motorway exit, it was
bucketing it down again and so we decided to carry on, it was only 4 pm and so
we headed for Dieppe. The main thing to get done that afternoon was to get Gypsy
vaccinated (which needs to be done 48-24 before departure) and we weren’t sure
whether the vets would be open on a Saturday. By the time we got to Dieppe,
about 30 minutes later, we happened to pass a Vet but we had passed the entrance
one we’d seen it and it would have meant going back on a dual carriageway and
surely there must be another one closer in town so again we headed for the
tourist information centre to find out. When we passed the info centre, there
was nowhere to stop and Chris was getting more and more agitated. We followed
the signs to a campervan aire which seemed quite central on the other side of
the quay and Chris got the laptop out to search for a vet. I decided to walk to
the Tourist info centre which was only 10 minutes and when I got back I was more
successful than the internet search (she says smugly). So, with map and
directions, we made the mistake of allowing Tom tom to do the navigation which
then took us to a different part of Dieppe with the same road name. So
eventually I took over the navigation and when we finally got there, it was the
same vet we had driven past…

Small comment from Chris the navigator: The reason, it transpires (in defence of
Tom-Tom) is that there are two Die-peeps: the original old one and the nouvelle
Die-e-peeps, and with typical Gallic charm, cunning (and lack of imagination?)
many of the street manes are duplicated “Mais wee, smoke on that one you
perfidious Albion, Nelson loving campour-vanners !!!” chortle chortle…

Anyway, Gypsy got sorted, we parted with €50 for the pleasure (such a
ripoff!!!) and then walked from the vets round the corner to Lidl for some much
needed retail therapy! It was now 6 pm and again the heavens had opened so we
bought a couple of “tarte flambees/Flammkuchen” to stick in the oven and
went back to the aire which charged €7.00 for 24 hour stay – nothing special
but convenient so we were happy to have landed. I phoned my brother to wish him
happy birthday and had a chat with my 18-year-old niece Joana who had watched
the Royal Wedding all day. Her verdict was that it wasn’t romantic, she
didn’t like the dress and it was very formal – welcome to English weddings,
Joana 🙂

The weather did brighten up again that night and so we went for a drink along
the quay literally on the other side of where we were parked. We found a cool
“Pirate” bar and I had a celebratory cocktail (la Dunette: Gin, Grapefruit,
liquer d’abricot, citron presse – very nice), Chris a beer and that was it.
When we got back it was bedtime and as Chris was gradually getting better with
his cough/cold and the worry of the dog now eliminated we could sleep

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Day 16 – Eguzon – Marcon
Posted on April 28, 2011 by vosselnewmans
So, not much to report about today, really apart from the fact that Chris
hadn’t slept well at all and was full of cold with a nasty cough in the
morning. So first stop pharmacie for more paracetamol and cough mixture – sign
language/noise mimicking is a wonderful thing! The drive to our current spot
took us through Tours, at which point I was driving and managed to take a wrong
turn that took us into the city rather than out towards Le Mans and so we spent
an interesting 10 minutes coming back on ourselves with lots of one way roads
and no right/left turns when they were at their most unhelpful. Still, Tom Tom
got us through it and we arrived at around 2.30.

They opened the barrier for us but the office wasn’t open till 4 – bizarre
– so we did some route planning for the remaining days before going up to
t’office and paying our €11 for the night – the cheapest ACSI site we’d
so far stayed in. But it’s quite nice, next to a lake and a river on the other
side but it’s raining again and cold. We’ve had a wander into the village to
buy a baguette but there’s nothing there really so we’ll settle down for the
evening soon. Chris is reading, Gypsy is in her box as we’ve just thrown the
tennis ball around outside for 10 minutes so she’s tired now. Time for
Rummicub soon (after the washing up) and early night for my English patient
methinks. So au revoir and more tomorrow.

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Day 15 – Brantome – Oradour – Eguzon
Posted on April 28, 2011 by vosselnewmans
Bon soir tout le monde. It’s 1810 on 28 April, Royal Wedding minus 1 day and
I’m sitting on a campsite in Marcon in the Loire Valley, having to record 2
days worth of travel, and that after two pastis – I’ll try my very best but
if it’s slightly disjointed you’ll understand why.

So yesterday – first stop Oradour sur Glane. We came across this in our guide
book and it said it was one of the worst Nazi atrocities of the second World
War. On 10 June 1944, 4 days after the D-day landings, some “Waffen SS”
maniacs rounded up the 642 people in the village and shot them all – men,
women and children. They then set fire to the whole village. This has been left
as it was since those terrible days and you can visit the village as a
remembrance place free of charge. Now, being German, and well used to all the
anti-German jokes etc you come across in England and having grown up with an
inbuilt guilt factor, there’s a certain sensitivity to second world war
atrocities committed by the Germans. I’ve been to Belsen, one of the
concentration camps in the north of Germany, as a teenager, but it didn’t
really affect me that much. Perhaps I was too young, maybe the scenery didn’t
spark my imagination but this time, seeing all the burnt out ruins of the actual
village and being able to relate to the relatively small number of people, I
felt it was a very powerful and well presented memorial. We walked around it for
a whole hour – the garage, hairdressers, church, restaurants and cafes.
Neither Chris nor I had heard of this place before, it’s just to the west of
Limoges. Also, driving there, coming up from the south, it highlighted how
isolated this place was. How did the Germans get here, what where their
interests, why this act of violence, the reasons for which are not understood?
It got me thinking on the whole logistics of the second world war: How many men
would have been stationed in small little villages like this? How could they be
supporting fronts in the East as well as here in France? I really must learn
more about the second World War and Germany’s driving force. There were 2
different signs in the village – one saying about the murders carried out by
“the Nazis” – another said by “the Germans”. I would understand if
local people hated the Germans. That’s why student and town exchanges are so
important, that’s why my dad was so pleased that I had married an Englishman,
a “former enemy” – long live Europe!!!

So philosophising aside, it was time to drive up north and it would be me taking
the helm again – yippee. Quite a lot of my time driving was on the motorway
which really is quite boring when you’ve been used to going on small roads and
seeing towns and villages on the way. On the motorway you miss all of that. So,
Eguzon, our destination for the day, was signposted from the motorway as a
“etape village” – why I don’t know as there really wasn’t much there
but our campsite was good with very recently done toilet/shower facilities so
that was a bonus. It rained again in the afternoon but luckily we’d missed it
all and kept nice and dry in the van. The only thing left to report is that
Chris won at Rummicub, for the first time in days so we stopped after just the
one game to ensure I couldn’t catch up – ahh, he’s so sweet…

Nah.. quit when you are ahead schatze …

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Day 14 – Mardi le 26: Beynac – Perigueux – Brantome
Posted on April 27, 2011 by vosselnewmans
After a nervous half hour between 10 and 10.30 on Tuesday morning, when we found
the reception closed (which we knew as it was only open from 18.30 – 19.00)
but also none of the owners around we got a bit jumpy as to whether we’ll be
able to leave or not. In the end all worked out well and we waved goodbye to the
very pleasant owners, a Dutchman and his French wife.

First stop was Perigueux, the capital of the Perigord region.

Hi yer… bonjour ‘n all that folks…. normally at this point Artie would be
waffling on about what we had for breakfast or lunch, probably involving
sausages or wotever ???… well, all I can say is that I was quietly nodding off
after a wee glass of red wine only to be disturbed by a discordant grunting
noise, accompanied by rude exclamations of “Merde” and the like… I opened
one eye , the dog meanwhile had crept off, cowering in her basket, only to find
that our intrepid “E-learning advisor to the South-East of England” had only
lost about half an hour of her outpouring (gnash gnash) .. one can only assume
that one had forgotten to save it (or some other technical malfunction?) but not
being one to dwell on others’ misfortunes regards such events, I would
normally say nothing more (other than a quiet gloat or chortle?) no-no-no not
me,my friends, not me (after all I am a nice chap?!) … I would have left it
there ‘dead n’ settled’ had it not been the flippant, casually discarded
remark that much of her ‘dit’ regarded our VERY pleasant lunch in Perigneux
and had something to do with the fact that I had suggested to the restaurateur
that if he offered chevre on toast garnished with a salad in future (a nice
piquant mustard dressing,I must say) that he might just consider drizzling it
with honey (as we learned and experienced from a great meal prepared by our
gourmand chums Sabine and Reinee, who we count as our culinary counterparts in
Bonn) … exquisite is the only way to describe this combination… for Artie
then to imply that I was being a bit impetuous (or other less savory comments)
or perhaps even bordering on the rude (?) I find very unsettling and frankly
uncalled for to say the very least….. the fact that we were in a
self-described gourmet restaurant does not mean the fat froggy excuse for a
bloody cook (chef? Pah!) couldn’t learn something or two from yours truly,
absolutely beggars belief ?! … if they cannot accept a wee little constructive
suggestion it is their loss methinks.. No? ? Well please your self!!

But to be fair, the lunch was pretty damn good and the smile on Artie’s face
when she was proved right to have identified the meat as being braised pork
cheek was priceless .. to then be asked to select from a dozen or so coffee bean
varieties for the Espresso ? what can I say? Bullshit? nooo although it may have
been a load of old cods wallop, seriously, it was a really great, typical french
lunch .. an hour casually ‘troughing’ great food with a fabulous view facing
the cathedral, under the speckled shade of the trees listeing to the background
of the french regulars yaking away ten to the dozen, the quietly murmuring
river, accompanied by the swallows endlessly swooping and streaking around with
their screeching only just outdoing the drumbeat of crickets and the bloody loud
amorous frogs … C’est La Vie mes braves!!!!

Lunch over… back to Artie: cathedral time:

I had a little look in the cathedral which was spectacular, lots of little
spires outside, fairly white-looking and vast. Inside there was an impressive
carved wooden altar but it was not lit up and I didn’t have any change to
stick in the box to put the lights on so I just skimmed the little leaflet I’d
picked up with info in English. Unfortunatley, my memory for any kind of facts
and figures of this sort is appalling as you’ve probably noticed from the
absence of any such descriptions so far.

I do recall the main saint was called St Front, not sure whether this was the
name of the cathedral as well – will look it up and provide relevant links at
a later date. We then strolled through the streets a bit longer, bought some
wine, beer and bread and headed back to the van – no clamp – relief!

So we left around 3 and our final destination for the day was Brantome which was
mentioned as the Venice of the Perigord region in our guidebook. We knew
there’d be a campsite but when we got there we followed the signs to the
campervan aire which turned out to be only €3.50 a night and was great as it
was just on the outskirts of the centre. What a lovely place! We made it to the
Tourist info centre just before closing time and got a map and a little leaftlet
in English which didn’t provide that much info but hey, you never know. It did
tell us that the belfry of the tower of the Abbey is probably the oldest in
France so there you go. The shops next to the abbaye are all half built into the
rock – really cool! So we had a little wander, bought some supplies (and
crucially a tin opener!) had a beer and trundled back to the van. So our main
food that night was the foie gras I’d bought in Castelnaud (opened with our
newly acquired kitchen utensil) – very nice but we agreed that we wouldn’t
pay for this vastly overpriced bit of “leberwurst” on a regular basis –
philistines? Peut-etre…

We had decided on our next stop being somewhere north of Limoges the next day,
going via the “Martyr village” Oladour which again we found featured in our
guidebook. I’ll tell you about this in tomorrow’s write-up.

So it’s now 20.30 on 27th, I’ve had a shower in which time Chris filled in
the above lunchtime slot (mmmm…) and – it’s raining again! We are on a
campsite in Eguzon, the first one with free wifi and the owners this time are
both Dutch. It seems that owning and running/restoring a campsite in France is a
Dutch person’s dream and it’s got to be said, that’s not a bad lifestyle.
So perhaps it should go on my list of things to do if I were (forced) to leave
paid employment in the education sector: Sausage stand, Karneval entertainer,
campsite owner 🙂 I don’t fancy writing up today’s adventures yet, I think
they’re better when reported a day or so late so I think we’ll make use of
the wifi and do a bit of surfing. Royal wedding preparations apparently in full
flow – let’s see what else is happening in the world. So bonne nuit and a

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Day 13 – Lundi – still in the same spot
Posted on April 25, 2011 by vosselnewmans

It’s 19.30 as I’m writing this and guess what – it’s raining again –
merde! We’ve just eaten, yes home cooked again although we contemplated going
to a restaurant today but I’ll come to that. Chris is currently lying on the
floor stretching his back as we had hired a canoe for the afternoon and he may
have overdone it slightly. But back to this morning. We headed out on the bikes
at around 11.00, just to Beynac as we thought there might be a market – there
wasn’t. On the way we went down to the Dordogne to check out a Canoe place
that we’d picked up a leaflet from a couple of days previously but it was very
much shut and deserted. We then cycled along the river for a bit though which
was lovely and gave one of the best views of the castle yet. When we got to
Beynac we parked the bikes, bought Chris a new sun hat (the old one definitely
falling apart) and strolled around for a bit before having a drink next to the
river and next to the canoe place which was advertising trips on the hour –
the last one at 3pm. We thought we might go for that so it’s no longer in the
midday sun. We waited till 12 for a woman to appear in the little office and
enquired about the trip. She advised going at 2 rather than 3 as a storm was
forecast. Yeah, right, not a cloud in the sky, les Francais sont foo n’est-ce
pas?! And yes we could bring the dog so 2 it was. Having consulted various
restaurant menus with special pacques offerings we thought we would come out in
the evening and sample a little local cuisine but it wasn’t to be, as you
already know.

So, back to the van it was, have a little snack and then pack a bag to take with
us and we left just after 1 which meant there was time for a drink/ ice cream
cone before we paid our €30 to get taken to Vitrac by minibus and then canoe
down river – great! We set off around 14.30 and nearly capsized before we even
got off the shore. And I have to confess it was entirely my fault. With Chris
sitting in the front and me casting us off as I was wearing sandals that could
get wet, I underestimated the unsteadiness of the boat, not helped by a restless
dog… So, having taken on a litre of water, we did settle into a rhythm and
down river we went – tres bien. I even came up with a little song en route, to
the melody of “Champs Elyses”:

Oh, c’est tres joli, la la la,

oh, c’est tres joli

sur la Dordogne dans un canoe

mon cheri et notre chien

nous sommes heureux sans doubt

oh tres joli!

Happy we were, just until shortly after we had stopped for a quick leg
stretching and change in driving positions, me now at the front, Chris at the
back. We’d left a good hour ago and we could see the clouds behind us
thickening and we also, rather worryingly, started to hear thunder. With more
than half an hour to go – the inevitable happened: it started pi***ing it
down. Having no option but to keep going, I wouldn’t say the rain was
unpleasant – it was quite warm and, doing a bit of exercise, cooled you down
but as we wanted to get back on land sooner rather than later we put a bit more
effort into paddling than we would have done otherwise. And so it was with great
relief that we landed at about 16.45. Being in the front I could step out onto
dry land, Chris was somewhat stuck in the back and in the end lolloped out into
the water which was about waist high. We had fairly dry jumpers in our rucksack
which we donned and started walking back, not very pleasant through the rain and
with wet trousers but we got here and were relieved to find that the van
wasn’s soaked inside despite having left the top window open. Chris jumped in
the shower in the van, I went to the shower block and so we were both wormed up
and dry quite quickly. Nice cup of tea and feeling would start creeping back
into the hands again. So gone were our plans for eating out tonight and out came
the emergency rations: pomme de terre et saucissons! But beforehand a little
starter in honour of Sabine and Reini (who I know will be reading this so
Haaalllloooo!!!): Fromage du chevre on toast with honey 🙂 which I prepared. I
think I should do the washing up now as well and then it might be bedtime again
soon. I’ll hand this over to Chris first to add his 2ha’pennies and then
we’ll upload this. The plan is to move on tomorrow – we’ll keep you
posted. Over and out.

Bon Chance mes Peeps…

Before I make ANY comments regards our epic odyssey, I want to make one thing
quite clear… if I ever ever say something stupid like “Gosh wouldn’t it be
nice to have canoe” you have permission to kick me in the nuts ….if you can
find the damn things, cos after the pissing, bloody rain, thunder and ending up
doused in sub bloody freezing water to my waist, my pair of chums have gone into
hibernation, they’re sulking somewhere in the region of my neck… you must
then mutter something in your best Winstonion tones like:

“The Dogdogne laddie, don’t you forget, NEVER never was so much chilled in
such a short time”“

with that I will nod sagely and immediately change the subject to something

I will say only one thing more on the subject:

Canoeing is the work of the Devil incarnate and should be banned like all
cursed, evil things, it is worse than smoking in public, true. Titbumwillyarse..
arghhhhhhhhh….. arghhhh … harumph… that good, I feel much better now…

No no no, not quite rant-over yet folks… I have just realised that our poor
little defenceless gypsy has been hiding under the seat for the last hour, I am
not sure if its the thunder and lightning or the terrors of being subjected to
the inhuman insanity called CANOOing … she whimpers as the mere mention of it:
traumatised, blighted, wee poor beastie, its a bloody good job there is no RSPCA
in France, me thinks, eh?

Anyway, despite this life changing event, our stay here has been fantastic,
chilled does not describe it adequately, but now the horizon beckons and tempts
us to follow the clouds: we must be off to discover pastures new etc (getting
quite poetic, eh ?)

So, unless we are bogged in, flooded out or the tea bags are damp or some other
bloody disaster (its still thundering you know)… tomorrow its off to Perigneux
and the beginning of the trek home….and still miss the bloody royal wedding,

Bon sour Mes braves…

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Easter Sunday, 24 April – Joyeux Pacques!
Posted on April 25, 2011 by vosselnewmans
We are hundreds of miles away from home and yet the Easter bunny found us –
much to our delight he had left some chocolate eggs on our table outside the van
– how cute!!! No Easter without boiled eggs (not 10 per person as my family
back in Germany used to allocate) but a modest one each, our last supplies –
hard boiled for me (perfect actually, schoen schmalzig 🙂 )) and soft boiled
for Chris, we had a nice breakfast sitting outside but unfortunately Chris
wasn’t feeling very well. He hadn’t slept properly and for the first time on
this trip was feeling quite poorly – really exhausted and flu y and achy so he
decided to have a day of rest while I did a few things to keep me occupied,
apart from playing ball with the dog all day which she thought was great. I
decided to venture out on the bike to Castelnaud which we saw the previous day
on our way to la Rocque and which was only about 3 km away. I left just after
noon and stayed away just over an hour in the end. The cycle ride was around 10
minutes and once I got there I decided the road to the castle was too steep so I
sat down for an ice cream instead. I had set my heart on a nice big strawberry
sundae and asked the waiter in my best french whether he had a coup de fraises
(I hadn’t had enough time to study the carte) – he said 2 boules and I said
yes which should have rung alarm bells. I then studies the carte and found it
was a peche melbaou fraise but instead of exerting my new found assertiveness
and re-ordering I let it go – and got 2 balls of strawberry sorbet – how
disappointing. It was very nice strawberry sorbet and I kept telling myself it
was a) cheaper and b) better for the figure but being deprived of those sorts of
delicacies back in England and it being strawberry time at the moment, one ought
to make the most of it – so I herby vow to have my “Erdbeerbecher” before
we go back on Sunday.

I then bought some bread and stopped in a little delicatessen/wine shop on the
way which would have been a perfect opportunity to nick things as when I entered
and the bell rang nobody showed up. Having then selected a bottle of wine and
some foie gras and waiting by the “caisse” to pay still nobody showed up. I
checked for mirrors or a camera but couldn’t see anything so you’ll be
pleased to know that the honest Eifler in me won the day and I went back outside
to make the bell ring to which a woman then appeared who took my money. The foie
gras is still sitting unopened in the fridge though, as we don’t have a tin

So, we spent the afternoon lazing about, sunbathing, throwing the tennis ball
for gypsy and generally very relaxed. We had an afternoon barbecue with meat
we’d bought the day before and which was very nice still and in the evening I
persuaded Chris to cycle down to Beynac for a drink so we had a pastis next to
the river and watched swallows catching flies.

2 games of Rummiclub later we went to bed just after 9 and for once I read
longer than Chris. My colleague John had lent us several books related to junk
rig sailing, one of which is called Ming Ming and is a true account of one
man’s voyages in a small 6-7m boat with a junk rig (like the chinese boats
have). Apart from thinking you’ve got to be mad to want to spend weeks on
board a tiny boat going through gales and storms etc. I have to say it’s quite
well written with nice short chapters that even I can manage and I’m more than
halfway through now (while Chris has read about 3 books in the same time). But
then, like the author of MingMing, I have mastered the art of doing nothing. I
take great delight in listening to the wildlife around us (heard a cuckoo this
morning, saw a woodpecker) and enjoy not having a a plan for for every hour or
even minute of the day. We don’t know what’s happening in the world although
we tend to sneak in the odd headline here or there when we turn t’internet on
and the homepage goes to BBC News. Otherwise we’re operating on the no news is
good news principle. Anyway, enough philosophising – thus endeth Easter

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Day 11 – Samedi – Marche in Sarlat and La Roque Gageac
Posted on April 23, 2011 by vosselnewmans
Rain – oh no!!! I haven’t really mentioned the weather much so far as it had
been sunny every day but we woke up to rain tapping on our roof which put a
question mark over our decision to take the bikes to Sarlat – 10km away. And
as it was getting worse, we decided to take the van instead, which was just as
well as it turned out to be quite hilly. The massive market presented us with a
parking challenge but we were EXTREMELY lucky to find a FREE place after having
driven around for about 10 minutes and apart from almost blocking the poor
owners front door, this was a perfect spot, just parallel to one of the market
streets. We left Gypsy in the van and off we went. At first in the rain but it
was gradually getting lighter and it even stopped towards the end. A very nice
market with all sorts of goodies: fruit & veg, meat, lots of Foi gras and
nut and oil specialities from the Perigord region. We bought a thermometer for
the van, a metal plate one, very nice, and, from a sausage stand, the offer of
the day: ham and 4 sausages for €20. They are all now hanging up over the door
in the van – very funny – like a mobile charcuterie 🙂 We also bought
celery, potatoes and chicken/duck legs and a punnet of strawberries which
disappeared very quickly as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea and some
Madeleine’s. It’s now 3 o’clock and we need to decide whether to venture
out again for the afternoon or whether to stay here. We’ll decide over a cup
of tea so a bientot.

Bonjour mon petit Garcons, c’est le Plombier ici… mais oui, mais oui… so,
just to continue the Saga: we decided that showers or not (you know its that
fine fine bloody rain, you know what I mean, like, fine rain that gets you
soaked right through, you know what I mean, like, Gladys… in my best northern
accent ?!… OK, its crap but please yourselves!!)

ANYWAY…… we unloaded the bikes and cycled over 120 km to La Roque der
Glock…..weeeel, OK it was only 2.5 km but I got poorly legs innit….. after
absorbing the stunning scenery (wonderful) I had a wee beer and Artie had a
Prune wine ‘a pair of teeth’ thingie (sounds bloody awful, but very nice)…
what I find very strange is that it is over 30 years since \i first visited the
place with the girls and its really quite a wonderful region… so, we biked
back and I cooked us some “a la perigord” style chicken and duck legs
simmered in a white wine sauce, celery, tomatoes with a smattering of chopped
potatoes and few pasta shapes (a bit of a tart job, I know, but they help to
hold and soak up the sauce?), garnished with fresh rosemary and shredded celery
leaves (rosemary nicked on the way back!) and some local Perigord artisan bread
and a wee cheeky 2005 Bergerac…. followed by noisette tarte… sur le pont
d’avinyon or wot!!! so , its fast approaching “Rumiclub” time when (in my
dreams) I will give Artie a damn good thrashing … but I have learned in my old
age that to lose gracefully is a good thing (even if it aint no good for me
blood pressure)… so its good night from me and ta-ta from the gang….

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Day 10 – Vendredi (Good Friday) – Villeneuve to Vezac
Posted on April 23, 2011 by vosselnewmans
We left fairly early, around 9.30 to make sure we got to the campsite in good
time, expecting it to be busy over easter. We needed to get some diesel on the
way and, having spotted an Intermarche sign, we headed towards this, just a
couple of hundred metres off route, and to our surprise found that the
supermarket was also open so topping up of supplies was the first priority (and
getting something for breakfast!). It being good Friday, we checked out the fish
offering and were intrigued by fish sausages, 2 different varieties, one pale
looking, one merguez style, reddish so we bought 4 of each. Pain au chocolat
were to be our breakfast, and we got more wine, beer and water and some other
bits n’ pieces. Then we topped up the van with Diesel an we were on our way.
We got to the campsite just after one a clock and a very nice Dutchman, the
owner of the site, pointed us towards the rear of the site with a view of the
castle – spitze! We had a chat for about 10 minutes with him – his wife is
French, they’ve had the site for just over 2 years, they have a nice black
Riesenschnauzer dog and we could let Gypsy run just behind the site and there is
also a pond where she can swim – marvellous! So, once we found our pitch I
went for a little explore and let Gypsy try the pond – so everyone’s happy.
The only thing missing from Chris’ happiness was the chance to try out the new
Safari room he had acquired on, yes, you guessed it, ebay 🙂 , but it was so
windy that the awning nearly took off so we had to give that up as a bad idea
but I think he’s got over it by now…

Having set up table and chairs outside and had a little snack, we decided to
trek up to Beynac Castle which we could see out the back window of the van and
only about 1km away. A nice route through a bit of forest at the back of the
campsite was a lovely start the route remained very quiet until we hit the
bottom bit of Beynac but even then we were surprised how relatively quiet it
was. The “climb” to the castle was quite steep and exhausting but we made it
and the sorbet in the brasserie at the top tasted even better after all that
effort. We went to a “point vue” to take some pictures of the valley below
and the castle but gave the castle itself a miss, at €7.50 each too much for
our “clamped out” budget. Instead we picked up some brochures on canoeing at
the tourist information office and sat down for a drink next to the river. I
should stress that it was still extremely windy but also sunny and warm and when
we got back to the van, we’d been gone just over 2 hours which seems to be our
usual “time away” slot. I tried out the swimming pool a bit later, which was
VERY cold and then we sat down outside for the evening with our fish sausages.
And, quite honestly, I was disappointed! I hardly ate any of it, they were too
salty and just not very nice so Gypsy did okay that night… Potatoes and salad
were enough though and it was nice to be sitting outside, even though we had
jackets on to keep the wind out.

The evening finished with 2 games of Rummikub and an early night, reading in bed
till just after 10 when it was lights out and good night.


Brantôme, Nontron, Dordogne, New Aquitaine, Metropolitan France, France Map

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