We stayed on a Camping & Caravanning Club certificated site at The Granary, Maiden Law near Lanchester in County Durham, until the 14th May. We enjoyed a number of walks along the River Browney and along the disused Durham to Consett railway, which is now a footpath/cycleway as well as walks around the Greencroft Estate. The charges at this site were £10 per night including electric hookup.
I got my hearing aids in the 14th and discovered just what a noisy world I had been living in all of my life. After collecting the aids from Stanley, in County Durham we then drove south into Yorkshire and stayed on a Caravan Club CL between Scorton and Catterick Bridge for a few days. This site was £10 per night including electric hookup
We then heading for Clumber Park to visit my cousin. We walked around the lake in the park. It seemed a good idea at first but it seemed to go on and on and took us about 2 hours. It was a beautiful evening and after a gorgeous meal at my cousins house we retired to the Motor home and had a night here before moving on.
From Clumber we were heading for Dover but all of the sites were full over the weekend, so we stopped off at Peterborough for a couple of days. We stayed at Mound Lodge CL at Hill Farm Chesterton. This is a pick your own farm, but we were a week early and the shop was not open. This site also cost £8 per night including electric hookup. We found a Launderette on the outskirts of Peterborough and did our washing here.
We then headed for the Camping & Caravanning Club certificated site at, The Field, Coldred near Dover. This is on a very narrow lane called Singledge Lane. Cost £8 per night.
We boarded the ferry for France on the morning of the 25th and on arrival at Calais, headed down the coast to Fort-Mahon Plage 50°20'20.01"N 1°33'20.03"E where we stayed on the aire. This was our first ever night on an aire and we discovered that payment was by a ticket machine at 7 Euro for the night and the custom borne was free to use, dispensing drinking water and separate tap for cleaning the toilet cassette. The site was just a sandy bit of waste land fenced off for use by Camping cars behind the town car park and large dune. The town appeared to be mainly composed of holiday lets that were boarded up or undergoing renovation to be ready for the season. Shops and bars were still doing fine trade as the weather was beautiful and many people has been using the beach which is a wide expanse of fine yellow sand. We had a sound night sleep.
26th May we moved on through Northern France into Normandy to Veulettes-Sur-Mer 49°51'13.91"N 0°36'17.06"E. This took us around Dieppe and through some very interesting countryside. The aire here is very pleasant. We went for a walk along the sea front. The beach is composed of large pebbles backed by a concrete promenade but apart a few bars everything was again shut or boarded up. They obviously only open for the season which hadn't started yet. Many of the houses were also boarded up and unoccupied. The first aire as you enter the village is beside the beach car park although busy was quiet, parking is on grass. A gentleman came around at about 18:00 to collect the fee of 4 Euro for up to 24 hours. However this aire was spoilt by some yobs driving through the adjacent car park at 01:30 shouting from their car and sounding their horn. The Euro-Relais borne here, also dispensed electricity from one point at 3 Euro for 1 hour. There was another aire in the village 49°51'9.09"N 0°36'5.97"E which was much smaller and had two vans in it and was all tarmac hard standing and also had Euro-Relais borne.
27th May we drove south west to avoid Le Havre and finished up driving through some quite lovely roads and villages. We had not set an aire to go to that night and were just exploring the countryside. In Beuzeville we found a Carrefour store where we stopped for some groceries. It turned out that they close for lunch and so we parked up, had lunch and had a siesta until they opened. We topped up our diesel here and found that we were doing almost 20mpg (19.81) fully loaded towing the car and trailer. We then continued on more country roads as we had made a conscious decision not to use major routes. We went through Pont L'Eveque where we took a wrong turn into a housing estate with dead end streets. The main road ahead looked so narrow, that I had decided that we must have gone wrong, as a result we finished up turning by having to reverse the outfit at a junction. When we got back to the junction, I decided to go straight across the crossroads instead of trying to turn left into this narrow opening onto our original route, particularly as we were over 10 metres long towing the Smart car on the trailer. This led us out into some very beautiful country but the roads were very, very narrow. We eventually found our way to a main road and found our way to Herouvillette where the aire 49°13'11.31"N 0°14'41.8"W is just off the village street and is free. This aire in the “All The Aires France” book states it is for 4 vans but it had 10 on that night.
28th May. This morning we went to use the Euro-Relais borne, at the Herouvillette aire only to find it and the adjacent drains broken and unusable. We moved on to Ouistreham with the intention of staying at an aire there, but on entering the town we decided to use the “Les Pommiers Camp-site” 49°16'7.98"N 0°15'17.03"W instead. When we had a good look around this site of 374 places we found there was also has aire facilities with a Euro-Relais borne, on this municipal camping site. We decided to stay on the camp site for a few days and as it was so nice a day we just sunbathed for the rest of the day. This pitch charge was 17.10 Euro per night including electricity.
Above the Aire at Les Pommiers. Below the Camping
29th May. Today we went back to Benouville and “Pegasus Bridge” in the Smart car. We spent the day here and at the museum dedicated to the taking of this important bridge on 5th June 1944 at the beginning of the D day landings.
30th May. This morning after having set up my GWHIP amateur antenna on only two sections of my four section 24ft portable mast attached to the car trailer. I made a two way contact with the RSGB news reader Martyn G3RFX in Bristol on 3.5mhz (80 metre band) on my Yaesu FT-847 transceiver at 09:55, just before he read the news. This was my first broadcast as an amateur outside of the UK using the call-sign F/g0fgg/m. I then listened to the RSGB news (broadcast at 09:00 UK time), here it was 10:00. We then went to Ouistreham in the car and visited the museum dedicated to the 4th Commando and the Free French troops that were part of it, as they invaded Ouistreham. We then visited the beach and had a run along the coast before returning to the camp site.
31st May. Today we went into Herouville to the Carrefour Hypermarket to try to purchase a 3G+USB stick, “dongle”, to try to save on roaming charges. We thought we could get one but the charges seemed no different to that charged by Vodafone for roaming. We talked to a gentleman who spoke a little English in the store and he explained that we had to have a French bank account to buy even a “Pay as you go” stick and that Visa was not acceptable. So much for a common market! We used the sites washing machine and dryer this afternoon ready for the next stage of our journey using aires. We plan to move on along the Normandy Beaches tomorrow.
Reflections so far.
Food seems to be more expensive here in France than at home. French road lanes seem narrower except on the major highways. On some of the smaller roads tree branches are allowed to grow out into the highway. I had to twice stop to re-adjust my mirrors, after being forced into the side by on coming traffic and the mirrors being pushed in by the foliage, on our run from Pont L'Eveque to Herouvillette. Road direction signs are placed pointing to the direction that you need to take, at a point on or just after where you are needing to go. As a result navigation is a nightmare particularly in towns and villages where you are in a line of other traffic. We bought a new 2010 Michelin Map on the ferry but the road numbers on that often don't match those on the signs. Roundabouts indicate roads leading off them but some are only dirt tracks that come on over the kerbs, so again you need to be extra vigilant to spot the road you actually need to take. The signs are again after the actual road you need to take, so you have to keep them on your left. I have found that the Garmin SatNav gets confused as well and often tells you to go off to early or late. New updated maps were downloaded in March and even these do not always agree with what is on the ground. French drivers seem more patient while driving along the roads and they will wait behind to overtake where it is safe to do so, even if you are going quite slow. They change however at junctions and if you hesitate they will sound there horns at you. Many roads are single lane with solid or broken white centre/lane lines but some smaller road only have offset double diamonds in the centre indicating the lanes.
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