Eddie's Brittany trip In Spain (long and boring)

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by eddievanbitz, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Well, one week back at work after my Summer holiday and as always is seems a distance memory.

    We sailed from Plymouth to Roscoff this time as we had decided to a bit more touring around so had decided that we wouldn’t tow the boat. At 33’ towing a 27’ trailer does make touring and exploring just that little bit more interesting! Some would say scary !

    We have not used Plymouth docks for many years, and needing to be at Plymouth first thing in the morning I posted asking if anyone knew the parking situation at the docks. As usual (Thanks Motorhome FUN members) we were told that parking there once the last ferry had gone was allowed.

    We arrived in the most torrential rain, and I drew the short straw to walk our dogs, Shadow and Sabre two long haired German Shepherd’s who frankly cannot see anything wrong with walking in the rain so are always mildly disapproving of walks shorter than they could be just because of the rain.

    Next morning we were up bright eyed and bushy tailed, even before the helpful Britany ferry staff were walking around knocking on doors waking people up. There were all manner of people who had appeared overnight. Most in motorhomes and caravans, many asleep in cars but my favourite was a car parked in front of our motorhome, erected inside a top box, a couple, emerged, rubbed their eyes and dropped a telescopic ladder down to get up. We all do sometimes take things for granted with our motorhomes I think.

    And uneventful crossing to France, as we had the dogs in the motorhome we were allotted a 11:30 slot to be escorted down to the lorry deck to be allowed to let Sabre and Shadow out to stretch their legs. It was very surreal dog walking inside a ship, whilst at sea. Once the dogs were happily back in the motorhome, we wandered back up and enjoyed a quiet 90 minutes or so sat with a coffee reading our books, relaxation after a hectic few days.!

    We landed in Roscoff and for the first trip in ages, didn’t have a 800 mile drive to get straight on with, so we felt a little at a loss, with no specific place to aim towards.

    We quickly formulated a plan! Drive to a decent hyper market, get a trolley load of our usual French staples and then head to a site for a couple of nights to relax.

    So, wines, cheeses and lots of Oysters and crevettes loaded up, a quick search of the area with the Pioneer and we booked into Les Mouettes, a campsite that is part of the Yelloh group, that operate campsites across France.

    The quality is always very good, as it the welcome from all the staff and the facilities. These sites are more holiday parks that campsites but after a hectic few days getting ready for holiday, we wanted a beach for dog walks, a decent pitch and the time to open a bottle or two of vin! http://www.yellohvillage.fr/camping/les_mouettes

    The area is Carantec, and the site opens onto a beach within the bay or Morlaix. The whole of that coast line is very tidal, and the tide goes out an awful long way exposing fantastic rock pools and seaweed covered rocks to explore, which is about the most exciting thing in the world for our dogs.

    Every rock pool needs to be peered in, and paddled through! And every crab discovered has to be sniffed, challenged and then with their Snout at floor level, resting on front paws, Hind quarters high in the air and tail waving frantically like a man waving a flag in the air, barked at, before allowing the crab to scuttle sideways to the sanctuary of nearby seaweed. I kid you not this process/challenge is repeated for the benefit of every crab seen!

    The area is renowned for its Oysters which is big business along the shore line with Oyster holding pens becoming visible at low tide which presents another interesting “Must be investigated” item for the dogs. When the Oysters are held, they are in sacks, loosely woven to allow the water to flow in and out and stacked in the pens. When the pens are empty, they become great sea water swimming pools, and everyone has to be inspected, sniffed, barked at and finally dived into in a kind of four legged belly flop. Then they swim around looking at us (me) for the solution to the question “How do I get out” I am not even going to remotely suggest that Lyn fell on her bum and but for the Grace of God nearly went in as well! After all, I am a gentleman. (just ask her how she got amassive bruise on her bum lol)

    The weather was disappointingly dull and grey and whilst we were mindful that we had booked into the site for a couple of days rest, it wasn’t the kind of site that we would normally want to stay on so we decided to move on.

    A picturesque drive South, through some stunning Countryside left us with the impression that we would like to return to the area and explore further, albeit without the cloud the rain and the depressingly poor visibility on what would be stunning scenery.

    Next stop, Benodet! Neil that has worked with us at Van Bitz since 1996, suggested that we take a look at Benodet. So as we were driving away from the mist and the drizzle, Benodet loomed up on the horizon as a sunny sanctuary. We pulled into a site called “Camping Du Poulguer” and asked if they had space for us. Not only did they have space, they had a choice of pitches for our “Camping Car American Grande” and we must go with him to pick one!

    Pitch picked, motorhome on pitch, jacks down, slides out, hook up in, and we decided that we should take the dogs for a walk. We went to reception and asked where we could exercise the dogs and were told that the beach was the best place (only to find out that the beach was the “only” place) Unfortunately the information and the map that the friendly chap on reception gave us were both out of date and when we arrived after a bit of a trek at the area of beach dogs “were” allowed on.

    There were numerous signs up in different languages stating that dogs were not welcome on the beach, which frustratingly was deserted, as was the little beach bar that would have been ideal for supply in a couple of really deserved beers after so much exercise. When we looked around we realised that the place was crowded with people milling around. Either walking around or, starting out to sea, our talking to others just walking around. Very strange and odd! These people couldn’t all be looking for somewhere to exercise their dogs could they?

    After a very long walk the other way the following morning we decided that Benodet has numerous campsites and hotels that look to offer much promise, but there really isn’t anything to do! A noticeable absence of bars, bistros, shops and restaurants. Buying bread is a challenge, a beer? Forget it!

    That night we went for a walk, and joined the throng of the “walkers” Actually we went to the only restaurant that we had seen open, and had a distinctively average meal that I can’t even remember.

    Following morning, up early packed the stuff away and left to carry on our Journey of exploration. The website for the campsite is http://www.campingdupoulquer.com/ The people were enormously friendly and helpful and the site was clean and tidy, but if you want to go off site there is really nothing in Benodet worth more than a casual glance. However, a couple of nights with children to play in the indoor pool and no ideas of dining out, ice creams or shopping would be great due to the nature of the people that run it.

    The weather was still wet and boring so we started to have the discussions, “This is why we always go South for our holidays” and “Well, if it had been up to me, I would have choses the Med” “What? I only agreed to come here as you seemed so keen” Type conversations.

    The Pioneer navigation system we fitted in the motorhome has rest areas, motorhome parking and campsites listed, and before we had left I had added these to the “Points Of Interest” (POI) displayed on the screen. An area called Saint Jean Du Mont was bristling with these icons all along the beach so with no actual agenda we headed that direction. It was South so the weather must improve: Mustn’t it?

    Clicked on one and the Pioneer gave me all the details of the campsite and the Bluetooth option to call the site. Yes you have pitches for 33’ American RV’s Excellent! We will be there in about four hours.

    Camping Le Sirenes! What a strange yet interesting place this was. It has direct access to the beach, which is sandy flat and really beautiful, and deserted mile after mile of golden sandy beach with the occasional person! Excellent for families and dog owners as families can have pretty much space as they want, so little Johnny can throw sand and stones around and not upset anyone and ball games don’t present any problems what so ever.

    The weather was still offering promising signs, but delivering rain mist and wind that had a chill. So we were looking at the weather forecast being hot and sunny in the morning! “Great! Picnic on the beach, only to wake up to “It may brighten up later on this afternoon” changing to “It’s raining”

    The site is situated either side of a quiet road that leads to a small beach car park. There is no entertainment on site, but on the road that the side straddles there is a reasonable super market, a fishmongers bread shop, a couple of bars and a restaurant, which to be honest are a little rough and ready, but friendly enough. The sort of place that you’d happily sit outside to enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine after a bike ride back to the campsite, but not a venue for dinner of the evening once showered, shaved and changed. Talking of bike riding whole area is connected with a network of off road cycle tracks which does make for safer cycling considering that the whole area has another network, of ditches many running beside roads, draining the land.

    Again Oysters and seafood are massive in the area, and the tidal marshy land in the area is teeming with shell fish and marine life which In turn attracts other wildlife in abundance. En route to Saint Jean Du Monts I am convinced that I saw two beavers beside the waters. Beavers were nearly extinct in France but for the last thirty odd years they have been making good progress and are found in the regions. Lyn didn’t lol so I probably imagined them.

    Oysters! Very marmite’esq shell fish. I love them, Lyn hates them. But to be able to buy Kilo of grade “A” Oysters from the fishmonger adjacent to the site for under five Euros with an exchange rate of nearly €1.40 for £1.00 made me very keen to experiment. So I bought an Oyster “shucker” for opening the wee beasts and a Kilo of Grade “A” Oysters which was just over a kilo for 12!

    Ate a couple with a really really cold local white wine, just to test that they weren’t poisoned and got to work. A light tempura batter, the Oysters battered then shallow fried in Olive oil, until crispy and served with fresh lemon juice and another glass of really cold white wine! The sun came out, Lyn agreed to try one, ate it and then took another without being persuaded to or pulling that awful face she does to make me feel bad about eating Oysters normally (Actually it the face she pulls at me whenever I eat to much! It is supposed to remind me that I am fat!)(which is true)(but come on! I’m on holiday lol)

    Going through the wine we realised that the Frexinet Negro (my favourite Cava) had been on “Promo” (special offer) and that I had actually paid €4.90 a bottle but didn’t realise that it was buy two and get one free!!! It’s normally about £8 a bottle over here! Result!

    I finally felt like the holiday was beginning!

    That night it rained!

    All the while that we had been, having weather highs and lows, we had been in touch with our Son @jamesvanbitz and his fiancée Kate. Kate is eight months pregnant, expecting their second child a baby brother or sister for our first Grandson Harrison who is 18 months old.

    James and Kate have an American motorhome as well and couldn’t join us straight away at the beginning of the holiday as much to James disgust Kate had book extra work in so they were delayed. The weather was the main topic of discussion as none of us wanted a wet holiday and at 18 months Harrison was definitely old enough to start to enjoy the benefit of a sandy beach holiday with sunny blue skies, as opposed to be dressed up to keep him warm and dry.

    Reluctantly we decided that we would head much further South and Kate had enquired about the availability of a couple of side by side pitches at Las Dunas in Spain.

    The weather at the closest town La’Escala was 38° Sunny and expected to be sunny for the next few days!

    So it was decided that we would go to Spain! https://www.campeole.com/campeole/camping-les-sirenes-vendee.html#content

    James and Kate had sailed into Dieppe from Newhaven, and we were still at Saint Jean Du Mont, but the distance and travelling times were similar so we decided to meet at the Aires Du Service at Catalan village. The services have places for motorhomes to overnight, is set off the motorway that runs from Perpignan to the Spanish/French boarder at the top of the pass on the Pyrenees. There is always loads of advice from many well intentioned people on the forums warning of dire consequences of sleeping on motorway Aires. We always have done, always will and always tell people not to worry

    Now to be fair, my job is motorhome security and no one could steal my motorhome, and it would be foolish to break into. I do not believe in gas attacks. I do believe however that there are people creeping around in the dark, surreptitiously looking for a chance, but not wanting confrontation.

    Now a motorhome with a good alarm system installed will deter such people. Word of advice. If your dealer has fitted your motorhome with a car alarm and you only have one LED (flashing warning light) and it is fitted internally: Forsake modesty for safety.

    Closing all of your window blinds and screens if you have a single warning LED, masks your deterrent and you likely to get a lock damaged, only for the thief to bugger off when the alarm sounds! Leaving you with a bill for €300 for a new lock. I always say to my customers that we cannot guarantee that having one of our motorhome alarms installed will stop you being robbed, but common sense dictates that if there are ten motorhomes in a Aire and one looks to be obviously alarmed and nine don’t your unlikely to be first lol

    So we rolled into Catalan services after a long drive, about 500 miles. It’s then that you start to remember just how big France is. It was late, the dogs needed a walk and I needed a beer so we walked the dogs around and then sat outside for a little while listening to the Cicadas and the insects making their unique Mediterranean music. At 01:00 it was the warmest we had been all holiday up to that point!

    Sleep and fatigue quickly caught us up and we decided that bed was a good option.

    We woke in the morning to find that James and Kate had rolled up in the night behind us and were all ready up and about. I guess that that is another of the joys of travelling with an 18 month old toddler.

    I always have and I am sure that I always will, get a thrill driving over the Pyrenees mountains. I think that it is fantastic. Better than driving through Mont Blanc in the tunnel.

    En route to Las Dunas we stocked up on essential supplies at the Hypermarket in Figures and were surprised to see that Spain seemed more expensive “like for like” than France, but as Figures is a holiday transit point It may just be that they can get away with charging a bit more.

    Las Dunas as always is a fantastic campsite, and this year it has the added advantage of its new waterpark complex. The site has gone from a great site with a crap pool to being a great site with an amazing pool. The only down side is that It is so busy that there is simply nowhere to lay a towel down and relax. Admittedly there are plenty of sunbeds around the one side, which is great if you can be bothered to be there at the crack of dawn when the pool opens and lay claim to your “spot” If you’ve been out for the morning and fancy a dip and wander down, it is literally a dip and then other than just stand around, you have to leave.

    That said you can walk through into the bar area and there are plenty of tables and chairs and for very little money a nice man keeps bringing you very cold beers.

    The services on Las Dunas are exceptional. There are not too many campsites where two RV’s and simultaneously dump their black and their grey water side by side and still have enough room for a third, nor are there that many campsites that provide so well for dogs!

    Now, people that don’t like dogs, don’t panic. If you take a dog to Las Dunas you park in a dog section. You access the “dog” part of the beach from the dog section and there are dog toilets, dog showers and dog bins.

    For us it worked really well. Get up, have coffee, slip on some shorts and head off to the beach. Swim with the dogs for an hour or so, which is much more fun than walking the dogs along the beach and better for us. Early in the day the Med is usually very flat, and very clear, only getting lumpier as the wind is pulled in off the sea to replace the rising air from the sun baked land, it makes the Med rougher, which churns up the sand closer in by the beaches.

    It really is beautiful and the mornings that James and Kate joined us with their dog Blu (a Leonberger) and our little Grandson made it even more memorable. Clear blue skies, the Pyrenees mountains as a back drop, crystal clear water that reflected like a mirror.

    Once back at the motorhome, after a visit to the doggy showers so that our long haired pets had no sand or salt left in their coats, we could plan the day.

    A great friend Mike, who is now family, (He is Kates Dad) introduced us into a now family favourite: Paella day, all done by hand, proper ingredients, authentically prepared herbs and spices, homemade stock, none of this packet stuff, so this necessitated a trip into L’Escalla to get the gear. So with the all three dogs, swam to exhaustion (I wish) and cool and clean after their showers we have no worries about leaving them asleep in a nice cool air conditioned motorhome.

    Actually that is not strictly true. The one worry is that some idiot will come along to the adjacent pitch, hook up on the bollard with an electrical problem and either trip the bollard, or as I have seen in the past, unplug us and “innocently” plug his EHL into our point. To get over that we have a device that is plugged into the motorhomes mains and should the power go for any reason, we will get a SMS Txt to say that the power has been disconnected, one our phones. As a belt and braces sort of person I can also send the unit a message from our phones to check the status. This does give us the peace of mind that we can pop out and not worry about the dogs.

    Pealla was a spectacular success despite Kate looking suspiciously at it towards the end and quizzing me on “exactly how much rice had I added” when she realised that the translation on the box was one HALF of a cup per person, not the ONE cup per person that I had used lol It did all turn out very well though. The only compromise we used was that we bought irradiated shell fish as Kate is pregnant, but as she tells us herself, she’s is not ill, she is pregnant.

    Google translate app is amazing talking of translation. Talk into it, it translates, write into it, it translates and best of all hold the camera up to say a menu, and it translates the menu! How good is that? Very useful.

    I am on Three, so I can use my phone in France and Spain, so we used mine predominantly as it is free, but did find that the coverage on the AutoRoute’s very good, but barely useable around a lot of the coastal areas we were in.

    There is a mobile vet that Las Dunas arranged to come to our pitch to carry out the necessary checks and paperwork for our dogs Pets Passports, amazing value at only €30 per dog. We paid twice that last year and had to take the dogs to the vets. Lyn and Kate sorted that side of it but if anyone wants the contact details I ask Lyn. The Vet spoke perfect English was good with the dogs. No call out fee, but she did want to look inside the RV’s

    Alas the end of the holiday came all too quickly and before we knew it we were headed up towards Limoges in tandem with James and Kate. We had intended to stay on a little campsite and make the most of the late afternoon and evening with a meal, but heavy rain and delays put paid to that. We use a couple of small walkie talkie radios when travelling with family, and Kate radioed through that there was a long delay up ahead, and their Tom Tom camper was offering an alternative route that would save about 30 minutes. I was peeved that our all singing and all dancing top of the range Pioneer had alerted us to the delay via TMC (Traffic Message Channel) but hadn’t offered us an alternative. Stupid system!

    Lyn suggested that we take the route and that we would follow them, reaching for the road map that is never far from her hand being a navigation luddite. Once off the motorway, just as Lyn had pin pointed us on the map, and discovered that there is 3.5m bridge to get under nine of the ten miles into the diversion the Walkie Talkie batteries died! A quick phone call, gets an answerphone message, so No signal! Bugger!

    That’s OK I thought, There is bound to be a sign with the bridge height on it along the route and James will see it, if not, I will stop and James will notice and come back. Both great theories! No signs and not a chance of stopping. Several miles of winding road, and just at the very last minute as we’ve arrived at Breeve (I think) a single solitary bridge warning height sign!

    Now, a 30’ Winnebago and a 33’ Gulf Stream driving along a reasonable but very Country road, tends to get a little build up of traffic, despite normally happily driving at close to the speed limit. Add to this that the motorway is severely congested due to heavy rain and an accident the snake like tail that followed us into Breeve was impressive to say the least.

    So imagine if you will, the looks and the incredulity of our “followers” when James finally realised that he wouldn’t be going under the low bridge and neither would we.

    Three point turns in busy, frankly quiet narrow roads, roads which are trying to cope with all of the excess traffic that is trying to avoid the traffic jam on the motorway apparently are quiet a spectator sport nowadays!

    Worse was that we had to drive all the way back to the motorway, to the junction that we exited in the first place, and join the traffic jam.

    Our Pioneer was delighted to be allowed back on as we had shut her up on the way to Breeve as her only comment was “SNIFF!” “ Turn around when you can”

    I guess that my annoyance that the Pioneer system had told me of the problem and hadn’t offered me an alternative like the Tom Tom Go Camper, was: There wasn’t an alternative! Not so stupid after all

    So we blew the idea that we would find a nice campsite, given that it was later than we anticipated it and it was still raining heavily so again decided to use a motorway aire. There are several around Limoges which are excellent and the once we stayed in couldn’t have suited us better.

    The motorhome parking bays we in pairs and separated with hedges for privacy. These are free remember! A level of consideration that is unthinkable in the UK. So it meant that we could each drive into the same bay but from different directions and have the caravan doors opening so we could virtually step from motorhome to motorhome without getting wet. This made the joint meal preparation and Granddads job of playing with Harrison, who had also had a long old day stuck in his seat in the motorhome much easier.

    We parted ways the next morning us heading for Roscoff and James Kate and Harrison headed fro Dieppe.

    We arrived in Roscoff in time to walk the dogs and, strangely be back at the motorhome for the England V France rugby international! Such an unplanned coincidence! I was told after the even that Lyn was looking forward to walking into Roscoff and being wined and dined but I didn’t pick up on the signals! I thought that Lyn seemed a bit annoyed as I was shouting at the TV and quaffing beer. I put it down to end of holiday blues lol

    Parking at Roscoff is easy, there is a dedicated over night parking area for trucks, and a separate place for motorhomes, with marked bays, where we parked. It seems though that like Plymouth, once the last ferry goes no one minds you parking in the ferry queue lanes so there really is plenty of space.

    With the trouble at Calais we were glad that we didn’t use Dover – Calais but to be honest normally do as it is so much cheaper with the RV and RIB combination, but we will see what’s happening before booking Dover- Calais again.

    Saw a school of Whales on the crossing which is always nice, got home, unpacked a few vitals and then when straight out and had a massive roast beef and Turkey carvery!

    I love going abroad, but I still love coming home!
     

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  2. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    When you said long and boring I had in idea:D

    Sounds like a great time though.
     
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  3. mickyc

    mickyc Read Only Funster

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    Eddie, if you think that's long and boring you should have seen the thread you created by having a hol!!

    Top tip with regards the alarm though, we crack open our side blinds slightly so that Mr B Urglar can see the LED.
     
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  4. Popeye

    Popeye Funster

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    Crackin' read Eddie, thank you. Griff
     
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  5. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    the good news ed is those grandchildren just keep getting better
     
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  6. Stewart J

    Stewart J Funster

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    Good read Eddie and thought provoking re the external flashing alarm warning led you don't do a diy retro fit for a 2 year old Cobra system perchance
     
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  7. mjltigger

    mjltigger Funster

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    Just checking.. was your reversing camera working ok? ;)

    Great read thank you for sharing.. love the sound of the sites you stayed on but have to say oysters are totes not my thing..
     
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  8. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    (y)
    Try them fried in a light batter, like the best Scampi you've ever had
     
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  9. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    No sorry doesn't have the outputs, but keep your blind open will help a lot (y)
     
  10. DABurleigh

    DABurleigh Funster

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    Great blog, thanks, Eddie.

    Dave
     
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  11. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    Glad you enjoyed Las Dunas Eddie.

    We have been a few times but as you say the pool used to let it down as did the flocks of Dutch teenagers hanging around the pool. Might try it again now though with the new complex.

    I am about 6km from Las Dunas as I type.
     
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  12. jollyrodger

    jollyrodger Funster Life Member

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    Great blog and many thanks Eddie will be following a similar route next month.great idea re the oyster's but much prefer scallops quick fried in calvedos (y) will have some local caught ones in the freezer and they were free !
    :)
     
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  13. Sue

    Sue Funster

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    Great read. Any more photos? Love the ones you have here
     
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  14. Welsh girl

    Welsh girl Funster Life Member

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    Not boring at all, a very interesting read.
     
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  15. irnbru

    irnbru Funster Life Member

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    Started reading this thread but since it seems very interesting and long it will keep for my bedtime reading :)
    I love reading other peoples blogs so Thankyou for taking the time to post it.
     
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  16. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Great write up, many thanks. We are off to Brittany next week but it will be like you, weather dependent and I suspect we will be heading south too!

    And your "beavers" might well have been coypu, these South American critters, escapes from the fur trade, grow up to a metre long and are common in France. They do have beavers in France of course, they are not widespread but they do have them on the Loire but they are mostly nocturnal, coypu I've seen several times in daylight on rivers near the west coast. http://www.lost-in-france.com/wildlife-in-france/195-coypu
     
  17. Momo

    Momo Funster

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    Great read Eddie!(y)
     
  18. kkclassic

    kkclassic

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    Hi Eddie

    What are the details of the EHU text device? Do you sell them?

    Thanks Kevin
     
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  19. solo 1

    solo 1 Funster Life Member

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    Thanks for your fantastic blog. Looks like a great time was had by all. Lovely pictures as well. (y)
     
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  20. Gosport Tim

    Gosport Tim Funster

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    Location:
    Rugeley
    Eddie, we stayed in Les Mouettes a few years ago (when the weather was good), great campsite close to the ferry port, and spent a couple of days in Benodet (Camping du Letty) in July. Unfortunately we had a couple of weeks of 'dismal' weather and have decided that South is the way forward for next year. Great read.
     
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