Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Amazing beaches, heroes and the playground of the rich.

In answer to all of you who have asked, Ingrid and Jo’s favourite TV comedy sketch is “Dinner for one” which is on ‘You tube’.

Saturday 17th July
Needles to say this morning it is a beautiful sunny day with very little wind, but we have taken our picture of the Mont St Michel and climbed all the stairs in it so really it isn’t worth staying so we are off to the seaside. We have decided to go to Ouisterham otherwise known as “sword beach”, as this is one of the Normandy landing beaches. We have actually been here before so knew where the Aire was and arrived fairly early so had no problem getting in. They have introduced a new machine to pay and it caused us no end of bother until a very nice French couple came and helped us, and phoned the number on the box to complain it wasn’t working. Somebody appeared almost immediately so that was ok. This is right next to the ferry port and as you can see they are very much in evidence when they are in. Fortunately they do not go out very early and we are always up late so they are no bother.

Then it was off with the bikes and a cycle along the prom, by the wide sandy beach.

In the main square they had a tent trying to get people to sign up for the blood donors and outside to grab the interest, a brilliant modern jazz band. We stopped for a while and decided to come back tonight as it appeared from some posters behind them they were going to have even more music later.

Carrying on along the promenade we came to one of the memorials to the Free French Commandos’.

We had run out of brandy and thought we had seen a supermarket as we drove in so decided to cycle to it, having first picked up a map of the area from Tourist Information. The only problem with this was that somebody small and blonde left the map in the van! However we pedalled along a cycle track by the Port and soon found ourselves going along a canal bank. Joan asked after about 7 miles are you sure it’s this way? No I’m not sure but its fun finding out pet, I said.

At about the ten mile mark we came across Pegasus Bridge and had a look around the memorial walk.

We then decided we had probably missed the supermarket by not being on the road, because somebody prefers cycle tracks. Our mum’s didn’t have any stupid kids! So we set off back along the road this time. This road suddenly became her worst nightmare, very busy with a central crash barrier and I realised we had somehow got onto a major road. Most of the cars were doing at least 70 and the small ones blood pressure was at around 270!

We did though come across the supermarket just outside of town, and got the Brandy so that was alright. Later after a meal we decided to walk into the main square and listen to the music but sadly there wasn’t any music , just country and western rubbish being played very badly so we walked down to the beach and along back to the van, enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Sunday 18th July
We are going on a mission to check out a couple of campsites, then onto a little aire at Deauville which is free, and has free electricity and water, which will be nice. What a stroke of luck, as we arrived at the aire which was full, a French chap signalled to us that he was leaving soon, which was really nice of him, so we got on. Next we went into the centre on the bikes taking towels etc. WOW! It is amazing here, I had just said to Joan that it used to be a playground for the rich, but it obviously still is, looking at these boats.

Today is something special and there are a lot of vintage Buggatti’s parked at strategic points plus a superb very old Rolls Royce in first class condition. The whole place just reeks of money, I don’t know much about designers, as those who have seen me dressed will attest, but I do know, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Channel, Hugo Boss etc are not cheap!

The beach was manic and absolutely crowded but it is so big it was not packed. I know that sounds silly but it’s true, all the beaches along here are very wide and you have to walk a bit to get to the actual sea so there is plenty of room for sunbathers.

I think we will stay another night so we can wander into the centre and just look around. Later we watched the slow drag home for all those who had spent the day at the beach, just like bank holiday traffic at home, it looked horrendous and it was boiling hot.

Monday 19th July
We did just that and it really is a nice place to wander around, with a lovely fountain in the centre and lots of beautiful old buildings, as we arrived at the fountain Joan’s face lit up as she saw there was a market on. After a very short time we realised that it would be necessary to arrange a fairly substantial bank loan just for a pot of jam! Still it was fun looking around apparently especially at shoes. I think I may have said it before but I am sure if we took some of these French ladies to Newcastle they would probably have heart attacks at how cheap things are or get serious back trouble carrying all their purchases. Even a small beer is expensive and very small, so it was back to the van for lunch and zwei radler pick up towels etc and down to the beach for the afternoon.

It is soo hot we definitely needed the swim we had and we have just heard from Andy & Carole so we know which way to head tomorrow. As soon as we return from the beach Joan starts baking a smashing cake, eat your heart out Ken! Now she is cooking a lovely chicken dish, wow what did I do right?

I can tell you the chicken was delicious but the cake was fantastic! Goodnight.

5 Days to go and they are coming YIPPEE!!!
Lots of love Bryan & Joan XXXX

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Mont St Michel and back to Normandy beaches

Monday 12th July
As I said we are now on a lovely aire at Le Treport where we get electricity in the price of €7.20. It is laid out just like a small campsite and with the sun shining we are sitting out on the grass in our chairs enjoying a beer. Our battery was very grateful to be plugged in and still has not finished recharging but we will certainly not worry now if we go a few days without electricity. The journey here was very simple and although we stopped off at a possible campsite for Andy, Carole, Joe and Eleanor we were still here by midday. The campsite we went to look at was in two different books, one said it had a beautiful sandy beach, the other rocks, so even if we were not going for them we would have gone just to see which it was. In the event not only is it rocks but the first thing we saw was a sign in red saying currents dangerous do not enter water! Not quite what we were looking for at all, still at least now we know.

Time for me to get the blog written, up to us arriving at Le Treport, so we can nip to Mc Donald’s tomorrow and get it posted and as you know by now that’s been done. We also downloaded a load of emails most of them rubbish but a couple needed dealing with. The blasted wi-fi will not send replies from our outlook so sorry if you are wondering why we have not replied but we did try! Don’t stop sending your personal emails as we enjoy reading them a lot.

Tuesday 13th July
Quite a productive day really, cycled to Mc Donald’s got blog posted and downloaded emails then on to supermarket, did large amount of washing, then cycled into town and along sea front, smashing. Sadly the beach here is pebbles as otherwise it would be perfect for our needs. At this rate I can see Carole opting to go back to last year’s place! It’s still very hot until quite late and we are sitting out when suddenly they started letting off lots of fireworks, we looked at each other and said, Bastille Day! This happened last year we remembered, it was a beautiful display and went on until almost midnight.

Wednesday 14th July
We’ve decided on another day here as Joan has not had her moules and frites yet so we spent our day getting a bit of essential shopping, milk etc, cycling to town and strolling around, plus lunch. Joan had her moules in a restaurant beside the port just like she did last year with Carole. This I do not believe, last year it rained when we went for our lunch, this year it poured, and we had to cycle back to the van and got soaked. Still the sun came out red hot shortly afterwards and dried everything. Then another brilliant firework display at eleven pm, where do they get the money?

Thursday 15th
Awoke to rain today so decided to head off on route for Le Mont St Michel, via a place called Vimoutiers where there is a free aire. The journey was straightforward and we arrived fairly early so having set up we went into town for a wander and a drink. On the way in we encountered several teenagers all sitting on the gate we had to pass through. Joan pretended she would have to limbo under the gate as the way was blocked, which totally threw them, but they were as good as gold and very polite. It is apparently where they all congregate every day.

Neither of us had realised we were in the home of Camembert cheese and so we nipped into the little museum and while there bought one for Carole who we know loves it. I tried to ask the young lady how you knew if it was smelly enough and ready to eat but she mistook my question and changed the one she had sold us for one with a longer shelf life and advised us to take it out of the fridge in good time for their arrival.

Oh dear the responsibility, they take their cheese very seriously do Andy and Carole as those who attended their wedding will remember. Anyway after a wander around the town, a visit to the patisserie and a beer at a pavement cafe, we had a look inside the lovely old church then made our way back and again encountered the youngsters who were just moving off. When one of them spoke to Joan, she replied we are English, which was like a magic word. All at once it explained her eccentric behaviour and also the signal for a couple of them to show their ability to converse with us which was lovely.

Then it was back for one of Joan’s new party tricks, she pours two glasses of wine or brandy, depending on which end of the meal we are at. Often one glass will be slightly fuller than the other but bless her, just so they will be equal she drinks some of the full one so they are level, isn’t that nice? (She really thinks I am that stupid, honest!).

Friday 16th July
It was dustbin day today so of course we were awake about 6am! Anyway after an abortive attempt to return to sleep we decided to make an early start and so we arrived at Mont St Michel about 11.30am. In fact we probably would have been even earlier if it had not been for the fact that the silly sat-nav couldn’t find the aire. What was worse was we actually drove past it but we were so intent on seeing the Mont which appeared on our right that we were actually looking the wrong way! Still, first we nipped along to take a look and see if we could find the aire just below it, which apparently floods from time to time.

We did see it but it turns out that they all leave and move to higher ground just before high tide. Anyway having found the right place we had a quick lunch and cycled back to the Mont. We did the tourist thing and walked up and up until nearly at the top we suddenly encountered a ticket office which wanted £17 for us to go right to the top. You will not be surprised that at this time our legs became very tired and we retreated back down by another route.

The point is, the Mont itself is the spectacle with only mud flats and the car park to see from the top, whereas inside it is a fascinating place, with shops, hotels and restaurants all tucked away like a medieval town. Every corner you turn is amazing. I was not the only one who was fascinated that the roof tiles are actually made of wood. Of course there are huge crowds all over the place so God only knows what it’s like when it’s really busy. One old couple had sort of managed to get into a seat in a larger than usual firing slot and fallen asleep, it was manic.

Having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves we returned, cycling against a horrendous wind and arrived back at the van exhausted. Joan said she would like to return at night and take some pictures of it lit up which seemed like a good idea at the time. As we both sit here surrounded by wet clothes it doesn’t seem so good. Having decided to walk as it was such a nice night with fairly clear skies, we kept going until we had got pretty close. She took a couple of shots with the zoom and then we started back. Just about then we felt a couple of spots of rain and pulled our hoods up. After a very short time it stopped and we pulled our hoods off and congratulated ourselves on getting away with it, Ha! Almost immediately the heavens opened and just chucked water at us in bucketfuls. We managed to run a bit to a covered hotel entrance and waited until it eased enough to paddle back to the van. What made it worse is that the pictures are not too good either, we need a tripod!

So there we are another wonderful week in paradise
Lots of love
Bryan & Joan XXXX

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

From Luxembourg to france and the seaside, Yippee

Sunday 4th July
The girls went to church and Ken and I got the vans ready to roll. When they returned I was ready to leave as soon as we had put the bikes on and Ken only had to empty his waste water. Kathleen said don’t wait for us we will see you there, which is good because if you go in convoy you have to signal if you want to stop and we were only going a short way, besides they needed supplies. It was only 47 miles into Luxembourg what could possibly go wrong? Joan said just follow this road out onto the motorway and turn off when the sat-nav says, easy. Well, no actually, at the precise moment it said turn off Joan was busy checking the route for the next part of our journey in a few days time, so I followed the instructions and it took me onto a ‘B’ road.

This turned into a forestry track only the width of the van and ended with a 1 in 3 down into the outskirts of the town! If we had met anybody or come across low hanging branches God only knows what we would have done. The small person by now was hyper and swore her blood pressure was higher than it had ever been. She was making unladylike threats to severely reduce the Garmin people’s ability to reproduce, plus questioning if they had any idea who their fathers were!! We did wonder why we had bothered to buy a very expensive sat-nav that we entered the size of the van into so that it would NOT take us along roads which are unsuitable and we will definitely take this further.

Very shortly we were in the campsite at a place called Mersch and booking in, when a very surprised K&K drove in. They had been shopping and thought we would be all set up by now. We cycled into town to check how we got to Luxembourg City and discovered it was very simple and cheap.

Monday 5th July
As I was about to leave the van for our day in Luxembourg Joan said, is that the shirt you are wearing? Quick as a flash I replied of course not, I was waiting for you to give me the one you prefer.
This morning we went back on our bikes to the station, left them there and got the bus for €1.50 and after a very comfortable 25 minute journey we were there. The driver was very helpful and showed us where to get the return bus and off we went.

We had alighted at the start of a pedestrian area which was more or less deserted, very strange.

We noticed that several of the shops did not open until 12.30pm on a Monday so we continued our wanderings as by now it was 12ish. We did the tourist thing and started taking a few pictures when we came upon the most upmarket McDonalds we have ever seen, a pavement cafe with tables and umbrellas outside.

A trip into the church was very informative because having had a look around we were leaving just as a load of Polish people came in with a guide who of course spoke everything except Swahili, and he’s working on that. Anyway a lovely little lady who was working there was giving him information in English which he promptly translated to his enthralled audience and every time she said that’s probably enough, they all said no please continue, so I got a potted history of the country. In the middle of the city there is a gorge which is a beautiful park but we were too tired to go down into it so just took pictures and after a quick lunch we returned to prepare the van to stay on a few aires. It was our last night all together as K&K soon go home and we shared our last few bottles of wine together.

Tuesday 6th July
This morning we were heading up to a campsite in the north of Luxembourg when I stopped the van and said to Joan do you really want to go there? She said not particularly, why? Because I want to go to France and more especially TO THE SEASIDE!! She said something about acting ones shoe size but did agree with me that we had done a lot of sightseeing and fancied a paddle in the sea. Also we found it quite expensive in Luxembourg, except for the diesel which was €1.007 a litre, WOW!!

So we headed for Charleville Mezieres where there was a very nice aire. On arrival we turned in just behind another van and although it was full we all parked along the roadside.
This is quite common on aires and we did not think too much about it, levelled the van and had lunch. Just then a miserable bloody Frenchman came knocking and said you cannot stay here, parking interdit! He then threatened us with the police and a £50 fine, and stormed off. A very nice Belgian gentleman said he thought it would be fine and not to worry.

Later we realised we were blocking the old fools view of the river a bit. I should say here that the French people we usually meet on aires are really helpful. Having smiled politely we walked into the delightful town and enjoyed a bit of shopping and returned for dinner, planning to ignore him. Joan was a bit incensed and was determined to stay just to spite the old sod, convinced that even if the Police came they would let us stay until morning. I was a little unsure and felt we would not relax or sleep well so should probably move on. As we returned we both saw the clearway sign which had been obscured when we arrived by another big van, oops, so we realised we would have to leave after all.

First though we had our dinner then packed up, it was now 8pm and we headed for a place only about 50 miles further on called Catillon which was a huge Aire with loads of room. The sun was shining, the scenery was lovely and the roads were empty so we had a good run there. We arrived at about 9.30pm, totally relaxed and slept like logs knowing we would be at the seaside tomorrow, yippee!

Wednesday 7th July
The sun is streaming in but I had very carefully picked a spot which would be flooded with sunshine first thing, only to discover we had huge trees behind us and should have been on the other side, oh well. For once the sat-nav actually got it spot on and we arrived at Fort Mahon Plage at 11am and found the campervan place already filling up. It is next to a car park with public loos and has water and a place for dumping waste water etc at €7 for 24 hours. Fortunately there is a slight breeze as it is just getting hotter and hotter and according to the tourist office is actually expected to hit 32°, smashing. The place is packed and more and more vans keep arriving and slotting in everywhere they can, they have even moved the barriers which set aside an area for coaches to park. After a spot of lunch we set off to the sea which is actually a fairly long walk of about ½mile through crowds of people milling round seaside tat shops and ice cream parlours.

Having reached the front you still have to walk out about ½ a mile to actually paddle as the tide goes out so far! It is a great beach for kids as it is very shallow for a good bit so they can play on the edge safely. With all these people about you would think it would be packed on the beach but it’s so big there is still lots of room, although at high tide it may be a problem, I’m not sure. If you imagine Bamburgh beach with heat and lots of people it’s like that, miles of very fine sand. The public toilets in the car park are of course a disgrace but we have our own so no problem there, (why are people so dirty?). Although it’s all right here we think it is a bit like Blackpool and know there is another place only about 2 miles up the road where we can park almost on the beach so we decide to cycle there and see what the score is tomorrow. The evening just seems to go on and on and sunset isn’t until about 10pm.

Thursday 8th July
Woke up so early because the old sun is shining again, it feels like another scorcher, but at least there was a nice sea breeze last night so we slept like babies. This morning I hear that voice all men will recognise instantly and know a job is coming along.... Bryan ...yes dear?.... you know how I said we should park this way around so as to get the sun on that side away from the fridge? ...Yes dear... Well would you mind turning it around the other way so we can see what people are doing. But I thought we were going to move to Quend if it’s available? Yes but if we can’t because it’s full, we will be facing the right way won’t we (plus sweet smile). So of course I moved the van or rather turned it around to face the other way, and then set off to cycle to Quend plage.

Quend plage is as I said just about 2 miles up the road but is a lot nicer. We went straight to the Aire as we remembered where it was from last year. It’s situated actually in the car park which is just behind the sand dunes at the back of the beach. You just have to walk about 200 yards and you are on the beach. There was a couple called Kay and David from Derbyshire there and we had a nice chat with them then went back to Mahon plage determined to return with the van early tomorrow morning. It is always a good idea to settle somewhere on Thursday for the weekend.

On our return we cycled down a back road to the van and discovered a very nice little car park/Petang court, with a spotlessly clean loo which we used for the rest of our stay. Another trip to the sea was definitely called for as it was again very hot and this time with swimming costumes and chairs. I realise everybody will not believe me but it was really pleasant so we went in for a swim, it was great but somebody small and blonde forgot the camera!

Friday 9th July
I was a bit worried about leaving Fort Mahon as it was pretty full and I was concerned that Quend would be full. Anyway off we went and as luck would have it somebody had just pulled out from a prime site overlooking the sea, great!
Here we are with a sea view, it doesn’t get much better. As soon as we were all set up I got the chairs out and wound out the awning for a bit of shade. Just as I tilted my chair back Joan says, Kay the girl from Derbyshire says there is a supermarket just outside of town so let’s ride our bikes there. So off come the bikes and we set out, at the same time looking at several campsites to see if they may be suitable for Andy & Carole and co. (None were suitable. It is a damn shame that the country who virtually invented family camping now only have rows of very expensive chalets/mobile homes).

At around the ten mile mark we can see for some considerable distance and there is no sign of any supermarket so we head back. I have done something really stupid, (no change there then!), usually I pack a couple of bottles of water but forgot. Joan remembered there was a little shop in one of the campsites we visited so we grit our teeth and carry on. Sadly as we arrive they have just closed but there is a sort of bar next door so we went in and paid €11, nearly £10 for two tiny plates of chips and very small beers, still it got us home. Whereupon Joan says, shall we go for a swim now, so we did, this time with the camera.

Later when we returned I cooked us a meal, and washed up as I do every night. Then this cheeky little sod says do you fancy a walk around the town? So, I’ve moved the van, cycled 20 miles, been for a swim, cooked a meal, washed up, dried the dishes and put them away, not surprisingly my reply was NOT in the affirmative!!

Saturday 10th July
Oh dear, the small one cried, it’s foggy. Actually it was just a sea fret and would probably soon burn away but it was a shame for all the people on day trips who had been pouring into the car park since early this morning. Still it was time for some serious thinking, how do I keep Joan amused? Oh yes of course, what about a little hand washing, by me of course as she didn’t have any rubber gloves. But she hung it up and kept moving it around until it dried so she was kept pretty busy, problem solved and we got clean clothes, am I clever or what?

(Joan says – Bryan forgot to mention that I didn’t spend my time lying in the sun eating grapes, I gave the van a thorough clean inside and the only reason he cooked the night before was that I’d cooked the previous three nights. Anyway, I have to keep him on the move or he’ll get lazy!)

As I thought, the mist had cleared by mid-day and we set of to find the church which was not listed on the official map we had been given by the tourist office. When I asked the girl there behind the counter she was a little bemused but started to tell me in French, my accent must be improving!

She was going on about small white something and pointing at the door? When we looked out of the door, immediately opposite was a little white church hiding behind a big tree! Boy did we feel stupid!

In fairness it was not on the official list but as a sort of picture in the corner. When we went and had a look at it, it was delightful and Joan said I am really looking forward to coming here tomorrow.

After a spot of lunch we set off to walk along the beach to Fort Mahon which we could see in the distance. It turned out to be a fair way, over an hour there and back, but we managed it and in the process noticed that the beach is cleaned every morning as the tractor rake lines were still there. In the evening we went out into the square to listen for a while to the local brass band and got chatting to some locals between tunes. Our French is still appalling but we seem to manage and they expressed dismay when we left so we must do something right? I think that we mangle it so much they dine out on it for months afterwards.

Sunday 11th July
You would not believe any more cars or motorhomes could get in here but they are still arriving and going in. Fortunately we have a lovely spot and really nice neighbours with two girls. Joan is off to church and I am going to cycle a couple of miles to get some water as we are getting a bit low what with having showers etc. It’s almost impossible to get to the water point here and I can only get 15 litres which here would cost €2 but is free 2 miles away and I can get Saturday’s paper there. With hindsight I realise we should have filmed this car park because it’s amazing and people are still trying to get in. The streams of people staggering down to the beach with multiple cool boxes are only surpassed by those who having found a spot to park in immediately get out a barbecue and fire it up. On my return I put the water in the tank and went to meet Joan who has enjoyed church and also has met the people we were with last night, who were delighted to see her.

It is now mid afternoon and several of the big vans including our neighbours are attempting to leave, rather them than me. Oh that’s nice, they approached us and thanked us for being such good neighbours and said goodbye. At the same time they introduced us to another family who are taking their place but who speak no English, well that’s alright we speak no French! After a short trip to the beach because there is a bit of a nip in the wind, we notice an Irish number plate. Later the owners, a lovely couple called Derek and Lynda, stopped by our van and after a brief chat as they were going to the beach, they said pop over later to our van.

It’s strange, out of the wind it is still scorching and its 8.30pm but the wind has an edge to it. About 9pm we went into Derek & Lynda’s van and chatted until well past midnight and consumed rather a lot of wine plus Derek shared his last tin of Guinness between Joan and me. Well Spain finally won the world cup. I know because from time to time Derek put the match on so we could catch up with the score, I must say it looked like a good game.

Our van has surpassed itself and after 5 days without a plug in we are going to head for Le Treport where electricity is included with your fee. The only trouble with this is we have not had any wi-fi and the computer battery is gone, I wish somebody would produce a laptop which works on 12volt. Apparently what I need is an inverter but I don’t think they do much good for the battery although Paul has one and he wouldn’t have if it was harmful.

So there we are, a bit long but I am afraid if we don’t get wi-fi that’s what will happen. Hopefully the pictures will help to break it up a bit. We are now at Le Treport and have electricity so I was able to complete this up to date and tomorrow we will cycle to McDonalds and hopefully get it onto the web.

Lots of love to you all
Bryan & Joan XXXX

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Two to a shower plus K&K again

Tuesday 29th June
Our first site on the river Rhine was at Oberwesel and it was small and a little a bit basic. The toilets were in one of those building you see on some building sites but spotlessly clean, plus all the red hot water you could possibly need. The site was packed and they said we can only offer you space six. Well it looked fine to us, the only problem was there was a huge sign with a number on it that was used for navigation purposes which stopped us having a perfect view of the river. I should explain that the back of the van was about 20 feet from the Rhine, and everybody wanted an uninterrupted view, but we didn’t care.

On one side were a German couple and a couple from Stoke-on-Trent on the other. Today we did our washing and you may well say, so what? Joan had been warned by the girl next door to get it in early as there was only one machine and a lot of campers, so she did. On every campsite we’ve ever used the washing takes 35 to 40 minutes but she spent the next 2½ hours nipping back and forth to the bloomin washer until it finally finished! However the clothes were apparently the cleanest we have ever had from a campsite washer, so she has decided to do the sheets and towels tomorrow.

As to us, it was so hot that apart from nipping to the shops for a few bottles of water we stayed in the shade by the van. Next day we knew the score, so having set the washing going we went to see the castle overlooking the site as we heard there was a footpath up the side of the cliff.

On our return we hung the washing out and promptly got told off because apparently the pleasure cruise ships passing by want to take photos. Oops! Actually it is very impressive the way the Germans use their rivers with huge barges going up and down plus pleasure craft. They have special sort of breakwaters that direct the water into the main shipping channel which ensures they always have enough water but at the same time makes little bays with very little current on this side so you can swim in it, very clever.

Wednesday 30th June
We are moving off today and making our way to a stellplatz on the Mosel river. There are lots of really nice places right on the river for vans to stop and by 12.30 we are at Urzig. This is a magic spot right on the river side. There are about four vans here when we arrive but I am sure that by tomorrow there will be many more. The chap next door has a little inflatable power boat and just puts it straight into the river and he and his wife nip into town, about 2 miles away.

The cost of staying here is only about 8€ and we are tempted to stay a few days it is so peaceful. K&K who have kept us up to date as to where they are, are now behind us somehow. They have been going somewhere and then cycling in both directions along the river and visiting all the villages and bars apparently! They head off home in a couple of weeks and we head for Normandy to see our grandchildren, Joe & Eleanor.

Thursday 1st July
Wow another scorcher and a text from K&K to suggest meeting and having a last few days together. This seems like a good idea and we all head for a stellplatz only about 23 miles away. Suddenly we get a text with entirely different co-ordinates on it! As it turns out the one we thought they were heading to was pretty ropey. They had visited this one just a couple of miles further on while cycling along the river. When we finally got there they were all set up and had a space for us next to them. This turned out to be a godsend as when both awnings were out we managed to create a fairly large area of shade between us.

It was lovely to see K&K again and swop stories of the romantic road, and some of their bike rides. Just before we got there we had stocked up on booze which was a good thing as we seem to consume far more than when we are alone? It being necessary to get to a cash point we set off on our bikes along the river bank for about 3 miles and by the time we returned we were exhausted it was so hot. The temperatures were now getting silly so we did not move very far from the shade, and sleeping at night is not that easy either. This weekend is a wine fest so somebody must have told them Joan and Kathleen were coming.

This place was more like a campsite and for 7€ including electricity and a beer garden on site, it was one of the best places we’ve been to. Well this is a turn up for the book, the showers cost 1€ and are big enough for two people so couples have been going in together. Ken and I have been accused of loitering near them with a euro in our hand but it is NOT true! We had a standing joke between us as to what went on in the shower so when Joan and I were in and we heard Kathleen outside saying, what are you two up to, we started making all sorts of lewd noises. Imagine our faces when we opened the door to find K&K nowhere to be seen and a Dutch couple at the door waiting to use the shower. How do you explain to people that you were just kidding when they don’t speak English?

Friday 2nd July
Up fairly early and it is already soaring past 30° so rather than waste our day just sitting about drinking, Joan and I decided to set off to ride to Trier as we had been told it was along the river bank in pleasant shade for about 8 miles. In the event it was a round journey of 22 miles and only about a third of that was along the river bank! Trier is a very nice place with loads of shops and a huge cathedral plus Joan managed to buy a couple of tops so she was very happy.

Here is a picture for the mathematicians among you, it gave me a headache, even the price had to be worked out!

On the way back Joan got a bit dehydrated and felt really ill. Fortunately I saw a supermarket and I left her sitting under some trees and bought water and a Fanta for her. Suitably rehydrated and refreshed we returned to the van. I am constantly on to her to drink more water but she never learns. Kathleen must be pretty pleased, she has three times brought her guitar out and got a good reception every time. One woman wanted her to go with their crowd and play and sing at the bar. This annoyed her a bit because as she says, I play for pleasure and a little singing with my friends.

Hey how about that, Holland have just beaten Brazil! Well we will all be up pretty late tonight then I think. We are joined by a young Welsh couple Phil & Lynne who have a van and are riding around on a tandem which has been the source of much hilarity and K&K even had a go on it.

Saturday 3rd July
Yep I wasn’t wrong, we were all chatting until past midnight but then who can sleep in 30+ temperatures? Today Germany play Argentina so it should be quite lively here plus this wine fest thing is on. We all four go cycling along the river bank in the opposite direction to yesterday and after 7½ miles and a Radler (shandy), Joan and I return so as not to overdo it again while K&K carried on a bit further.

At a natural waterfall we met a German couple and agreed to take each other’s photos. When he gave me his camera I could not help asking him if it was “the same procedure as last year?” To which he instantly replied “the same procedure as every year James!” and along with some others who had arrived by then we all roared with laughter. Germans really do have a brilliant sense of humour.

There has to be a thunderstorm soon God only knows what the temperature is but the slightest exertion brings us out in a sweat. Suddenly everybody was putting things away and awnings were being wound in, the wind got up and it was like a blast furnace, then the storm broke! We had one hell of a downpour with thunder and lightning but it did not improve the temperature much although there was now a slight breeze.

Germany won. Oh good Joe & Ingrid will be pleased, this lot here are naturally going around cheering and laughing. This is the signal for the wine fest to start and we enjoyed some genuine German local food and a couple of bottles of their wine. We were joined by Phil & Lynne. He works for BT and she is a dietician but as she says “we don’t take our work home”, so she tucks in as well. Along with everybody else we all stay up until the early hours. We are moving into Luxembourg tomorrow but only have about 47 miles to do. This stellplatz is so good we have all vowed to come here again, perhaps a little earlier in the year when it’s not quite so HOT!

Lots of love
Joan & Bryan XXXXXX