The final stage.
Today we had an easy run of 77k to El Portus Naturist Camping site.
The run along the motorway to Cartegena was easy but then the motorway ends and you are in the middle of the town. The lady in the sat nav kept us right until we came to Canteras where she diverted us off the main road down a back street to be faced by two no entry signs at a crossroad and a car parked in the other narrow street. We struggled to extract ourselves, just then the Local Police arrived and when we explained what had happened they escorted us out of town blocking roads to allow us easy access and then took us to the junction for El Portus where they again blocked the road for us to turn. Now that is service.
We arrived at the site at 10:30am and booked in until the end of April. The fees are reduced for long stay and work out as cheap as using a CL in the UK. The weather is much better here as well.
We thought the campsite at Manzanara was beside a garage, so didn't bother to pull off the road to get diesel. Although we had to go to the garage to book onto the campsite the night before when we pulled onto the pumps today it had notices up that it had no fuel. We then rejoined the A-23 and pulled off into the next village to fuel up.
We continued our journey and planned to go to the Repsol LPG station in Alecanti then to Elche to a camp site from the Caravan Europe book. However the roads and road junction numbering had changed around Elche and the club did not provide coordinates so after 15 minutes of fruitless searching we hit the road again and pulled into the first service area we encountered which was at Santomera N38 06.167 W001 02.151. We parked at the rear among the waggons and had a good night. We had covered another 362k today
After a good night and 20 Euro lighter we set off back on the AP-15 towards Zaragosa and the AP-66 where we joined the A-23. Driving was so easy I was able to cover 362k to our next stop at Manzanera. We were quite high and had frost overnight but as we again had hookup it caused us no problems.
We joined the Motorway to Irun and crossed into Spain. After leaving San Sabastian area we began to climb into the Pyrenees on the A-15 This was a very steep long climb involving going through many tunnels. We had to use the crawler lane and were going so slow that I put the 4 way flashers on. Up and up we went until we hit a service area /filling station. Here we had a rest and a meal letting the engine cool down before the next section. This was however a short climb and then it was fairly good going to Pamploma/Iruna where we joined the AP-15
I was pleasantly suprised by the quality of the Motorway network in Spain and we were able to comfortably cruse for mile after mile.
We stopped for the night at Olite at a small campsite where we were able to get fresh water and had hookup for the first time since Dover.
Today we drove another 301k from Jarnac to Capbreton.
We had intended to go to Dax but found the Aire had very small awkwardly angled bays which were too small for our outfit and it would have been noisy as it was under the river bridge which carried the main road. We set the sat nav to take us to Capbreton which is on the coast.
We had problems getting out of Dax but eventually sorted a route out and arrived at Capbreton. This is a massive Aire with marked individual bays with individual electric hookups and can take about 100 or more vans. There were about a dozen motorhomes on so we had plenty of space but all of the services apart from the waste disposal had been disconnected for the winter. There was a squatter type loo that had the door jammed open.
There are high dunes separating this are from the Atlantic. It was blowing a gale and the sea was crashing in but it was spectacular to see.
After a night here it was across the border to Spain after we had visited a supermarket and fill our gas tank up.
We had used no toll roads on our trip through France but decided that as we were unsure of Spanish roads we would set the sat nav to accept toll roads again for the journey through Spain.
We sent two nights at Vouvray then drove a further 301k to Jarnac. We originally intended to go to Cognac but on arrival found that the aire was tiny only 3 spaces and would not take our outfit and it was fully occupied. The books had said it could take 20 vans. We then back-tracked to Merignac following the signs only to find that this Aire had been closed down and barrels put across the across road to prevent entry. It looked like the sports centre was undergoing renovation. It was back down the road again towards Cognac to Jarnac.
This Aire is beside the river in a very large car park. It has dedicated spaces for 5 vans with free electricity from the Bourne which is a drive though type at a higher level to the parking. There were four French and German vans parked in the designated place. All were sharing the hookup and had items placed out from the vans preventing other gaining access. There was another UK van on the car park away from the borne as well as ourselves. The local police came around and had at drove off.
Jarnac had a very large warehouse containing Courvoisier Brandy. Beside these are the river and a canal with locks. It would seem that the area had been used to ship the spirit out by barge at some time.
Today we left Buchy and continued slowly through France avoiding the Peage. We were in no rush and had decided to take it easy after 205k from Calais to Buchy we did another 314k to Vouvray. The Aire was in a small car park and could take 3 vans. It has an excellent bourne.
After an uneventful voyage we arrived in France at 10:30am Local and our winter adventure had begun.
We stopped on the Aire of the 2 caps for lunch and then continued to Bucky. We found this to be an excellent Aire beside a school at N 48.35.168 E001.21.884
Buchy is a quiet village with an interesting covered market area around the town hall.
This month began with preparation for our extended trip to Southern Spain for the winter.
After discovering the Reversing Camera Monitor problem we went back to Conrad Andersons again on the 1st for work to be carried out on the 2nd. We are getting used to staying overnight in their yard now. This time it was very crowded as we shared the yard with a Caravan, a Van, A Salisbury's Trailer that Jamie Oliver uses and two other Motorhomes one of which arrived after dark and it took some shoehorning to get everybody in. The Job was none by lunchtime so we headed North West to Leyland were we spent the night on a CL. On route we lost a winter fridge vent cover. Next day we took the van into Peter Hambiltons at Preston for repairs to the pull out bike carrier, rear lights and towbar wiring.
I also suspect some delamination where I step out of bed and he sorted this out.
We spent they day in Preston and visited the museum. We were picked up by Peter and returned to the van. We then went back to the Leyland CL for a further night before returning north up the M6 and Stainmoor A66 to the A1 at Scotch Corner to the CL at Maiden Law.
The Motorhome then was due to go in for a service and MOT at Catchgate on the 9th. This work took more than a day so we had to put plan B into operation and stayed the night with my sister in law.
When we got her back it was operation sort out and we headed south to Clumber Park on the 15th I have a cousin who lives in the village so stayed outside her house that night. On the 16th we headed down the A1 to Dover where we spent the night on a CL. It was up early on the 17th to get the ferry to France at 8:00am.
We decided to give wild camping in Northumberland a try this month.
Our First trip however was to Birmingham on the 3rd to Conrad Andersons for a service on our Gasparini Energy 20 LPG Generator. The generator had done about 400 hours. We had an hours meter fitted so that we could tell just how much we had used it. The service involves taking the generator from its cradle under the van and splitting the case to get at the works. With it being two stroke the exhaust gradually blocks up and impairs performance so we had a new one fitted as they are impossible to clean. The spark plug was replaced. The fitter did comment that ours was one of the cleanest he had serviced and we put that down to using only the recommended Fully Synthetic two stroke oil.
After the days work on the 5th We then went to Stoke Bruerne to a CL for a few days. This is beside the Grand Union canal and we checked out the Museum and went for a walk along the canal. WE have friends who live in the village that we met at El Portus in 2007 so we had dinner with then one night and than drove north again on the 7th.
We went wild camping on the Northumberland coast on the 12th. We stayed on the car park at Hadstone that night and the next. During the day we went for walks along the beach. It was chilly but enjoyable. As we were getting ready to move off a gentleman from Northumberland County council came to the van and told us he had had a complaint of a Motorhome using the car park overnight and he had to come and investigate.
We moved on to Warkworth where we overnighted on the Long Stay Coach Park. Next morning we went to the beach. There is a caravan site here but it does not have any provision for touring visitors. There is another site full of static touring type caravans. The place is covered with notices stating that overnight camping is not permitted. Not very welcoming.
We had planned to go to the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Beadnell to dump and replenish the fresh water. However even though this was before the half term it was closed for the season. We tried some CLs and CSs in that area and they were fully booked. As a result we finished up missing out Seahouses and Bamborough and went to Beal at the end of the Causeway to Holy Island. This was a nice CL on a farm. We spent a day on Holy Island exploring and visiting the Castle (NT) and the village.
On the 17th we headed south again down the AI. My comment was Northumberland was a nice place pity it was shut.
We again went to one of our favourite CLs at Sedgefield until the 24th then we returned to out other favourite CS at Maiden Law. It was raining heavily so we decided to go up the A19 toward Sunderland for a change. As I was travelling I noticed the Rear View camera was poor. It then went totally black.
When we got to Maiden Law I investigated the cause and after talking to Conrad Anderson it was decided that we needed a new monitor. So we stayed until the 31st then it was off again to Birmingham.
Well September has been another month of sitting on one site. We are at a Camping and Caravanning Club CS at Maiden Law near Lanchester in County Durham.
From this site I can see the house I was brought up in on the horizon to the north. We are almost on the top of a hill in North West Durham with views to Sunderland and the sea to the east. Views of the edge of the Durham dales to the south and Pontop Pike television transmitter about a mile as the crow flies to the west, the base of which is at 1035ft ASL. My father was born in a house near the mast.
We now tend to use this CS as a base as we need to see our doctors twice a year for checkups. I have had one of my checkups and today 28th I go for another. We kept the same doctors despite travelling about for convenience. Last year we got a 6 months prescription for over the winter so we will see them in October for another ready for our planned trip to southern Spain in November. We intend to be their until April and then move back up through France to home for our other checkup and MOT on the Smart car
We had a weekend away at Doncaster 24th to 26th for a family get together and are now waiting to set off for Birmingham at the beginning of October for work to and servicing of our on-board LPG generator.
I have topped up the LPG tank and it works out that in the last 20 days we have used 38 litres (approx 19kg) of gas for heating, and cooking.
We have an appointment for some repairs to the water taps and rear bumper lights booked for early November before we can get the MOT done on the Motorhome. This has delayed our planned departure for Spain as we had originally intended to head south in September/October.
Well for the remaining weeks of July and most of August we became house bound again.
July we spent in Darlington House sitting for Andrea. Joan enjoyed this as she could get some gardening in again. I enjoyed being able to use our old hot tub.
August was spent in Doncaster while Les went to the states where they stayed in a resort for one week then hired a 38ft RV for two weeks. Joan again got stuck into the gardening while I looked after the hot tub from the inside. Well someone has to do the hot work haven't they.
We headed for Lakeland again at the end of this and had a fantastic week at Haverigg and Millom again. The weather was fantastic so we got our tans topped up again. This time we explored the Folk Museum in Millom (Entry £4 and the ticket lasts for 12 months) and then went onto the old sea wall that was constructed to protect the old Iron Stone mine from becoming flooded. The mine closed in 1968 and the land inside the wall has now subsided, so the wall separates a fresh(ish) water lagoon from the sea. The lagoon is used for boating and one side has become Lakeside Caravan Park. The rest of the lagoon and old Iron Works site is a RSPB site.
There are wilding possibilities along the wall either side of the old lighthouse. Further along the wall it becomes the site of the old Iron works with possibilities of more secluded parking. Lakeside have just had planning approved for a further 100 static caravans and 30 Motorhome pitches plus more spaces for touring caravans.
We now have dates for September for servicing the Generator in Birmingham. We also have a date at the beginning of October to repair the damage done while reversing after coming back from France. After this work we will be able to get the Motorhome MOT done (Due December) and then head for southern Spain. Unfortunately this is a couple of months later than we had planned.
2nd July Today we drove from [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Quiberon (Kerval)[/FONT] to Vannes (Camping de Conleau) The Aire here is at the entrance of the Municipal Campsite N47 38'036 W 2 46'48,67 but as we were in need of using the Laundrette we decided to stay on the camping site instead. The weather has changed from brilliant sunshine to drizzle but as we drove towards Vannes it cleared up but didn't get sunny until near sunset.
6th July drove 35k from Vannes to Arzon on the mouth of the Gulfe du Mobihan. This Aire N 47 32.365 W 002 52.841 was quite confusing for us to use as it has a ticket machine at the entrance that requires you to book in for one, two or three days and charges you for your stay and 100 litres of water per day. Three days cost us 20.10 Euro and we had to pay this on a visa card. In the proce but it asked us for our Metriculation number? despite the rest of the information being in English. We asked a person who was on site and they came to look and explained it was the vehicle registration number. We found a pitch in a corner that was able to accommodate our 10.3 metres length, most of the sites were strictly for 6 to 7 metre camping cars. We noticed that all of the electric points were occupied by a multitude of adaptors and plugs of many types. The electric points were all hogged so we stood no chance if we could have we wouldn't have been able to reach a point. We also noticed that people were getting water in containers from the same points as the electric hookups. We looked all over for a Borne and it was the day after we arrived that we discovered it on a street outside of the Aire. From the Aire you had to go out onto the main road, turn left into another road and then do a u-turn to get back to the borne. We needed water do decided to try this maneuver. We pulled onto the borne and entered the pin number on our ticket from the machine at the gate that operated the Aire barrier. We tried and tried and then realised that there was no spilled water anywhere and realised that the borne water was not working. We were able to empty our cassette and wash it out with some of our waste water and then had to negotiate our way back into the Aire through the barrier and find a connector for a tap that pushed on as the interior taps were all smooth. They were also the push for on types that cut off when you let go so filling our tank was performed by having to hold the pipe on with one hand and push with the other, while Joan checked to see that the hose didn't jump out of the filler and tell me when to let go to stop filling. Other people wanted to empty pans and dishes into the drain as we tried to fill. Despite the problems we would use the Aire again as it is just 700 metres from a Naturist beach which is the way we enjoy to sunbathe and swim. The Aire is just minutes away from another beach as well. The Aire was also quite noisy at times from the holiday apartments that make up most of the building near this Aire.
9th July drove to the Aire at Damgan (Kervoyal) N 47 30.876 W 002 33.623 This is a very popular Aire and houses over 70 Camping Cars in bays between pine trees. We paid the lady that called for our money at 18:00 at 6 Euro per night. The next night I checked the ticket number and she had issued about 100 tickets in 24 hours. The maximum stay here is 72 hours. We walked 2k into Damgan to find a shop on Saturday morning and found that it was market day. Later we walked to the point at Kervoyal in the other direction to the orientation table which was very informative and even pointed out a section of coast where gold had been mined up to the first world war which reflects the light at sunset.
11th July we are setting our compass (sat nav actualy) to UK again and are making our way back to Calais. We left Damgan and headed back cross country to Oustreham passing St Michaels mount again on the way. This was mostly fast roads and we were able to cover 330k comfortably. We again stayed on the
12th July We left Ouisreham and needed to fill up with diesel. The first station was fully automatic and althought the pump was selectable for English it would not accept any of our cards as it sail the chip was not in far enough to read it. We set the sat nav for the next nearest and found that this had shut down. We then selected a SuperU and went there. The pumps were narrow lanes and I had difficulty turning out of the lane to the kiosk as we are 10.3 metres long and they only seem to build the stations for cars. This sorted we headed off and got lost on the roads around Caen. The roads were rough and the plug for the sat nav kept breaking contact just as we needed its instructions so we finished up doing figures of eight to get onto the road we required. The drive then took us on a number of peages and we finished up spending 34 Euro on the 338k drive to Le Portel Aire at Boloign Sur Mer.
13th July Set off from Le Portal at 06:30 as we were a bit worried about getting out of the Aire barrier. The streets near this Aire are either narrow residential with cars parked or have a 3.5 ton limit so it was a nightmare as the sat nav wanted to take us up the weight limited roads and we are 5 tonn plus the trailer at another ton. The Sat nave then directed us through the centre of Bologne instead of taking us on the bypass roads. Thank goodness we had set off early and there was very little traffic about. We arrived at the Car Ferry at Calais at 07:35 and went through passport control and checked in. We were offered a chance to go on an earlier boat for an extra £25, but declined the offer and parked up at 07:45. Our ferry is due to sail at 10:15. I then set the clocks to UK time 06:45.
Disaster struck while driving onto the ferry. I was close to the vehicles parked on my right and a party infromt of me just spilled out over the deck from a couple of hire mini-busses. This distracted me and I clipped the rear of a French Motor home with my mirror leaving rubber marks on it. We then had to exchange details with the French driver. Over 2500k of driving in France without problems and I had to finish the trip off with a bump on the car deck of the ferry.
We got off the ferry OK as I refused to move until the road in front of me was clear of any potential obstructions.
We went to Tesco a Dover to stock up on British grub that we hadn't been able buy in France and then headed north west to the Dartford Crossing where it took us 40 minutes from getting onto the M25 to going through the pay booth. We then continued North to Doncaster where we had a night parked at our sons house. The evening finished with a dip in the hot tub.
Next morning 14th July while manoeuvring to get into a position to pick up the car and trailer I hit a wall with the back of the Hymer. This pushed the Motorcycle carrier/Bumper back into the van breaking the light on it and puncturing the vans skin a little. We tried the boot and couldn't open it. Time to contact Peter Hambilton in Preston for a quote.
I rang the insurance about the ferry incident as was told that even if I was not making a claim for damage this still counted as an accident involving me hitting a stationary vehicle and it would come of my no claims bonus or against the number of knock in 5 years before it eliminates the protected bonuses protection.
Came further north to Sedgefield and stayed again on the CC CL at Donewell Farm for a few days.
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]1st June. We moved on from Ouistreham today and drove along the cost towards Arromanches. On our way we saw a sign for a German Radar Museum. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]This according to the literature contained the only working WW2 German radar station on its original site. The site had the original bunkers some of which have been set out as a museum showing how the station was during the war. The troops held out here for 20 days after D-Day and they were supplied by air drops of supplies by the Luftwaffe. The museum site is only a fraction of the size the establishment was during it working life, but remains of other bunkers can be seen from the site but these are not open to the public as they are in private hands.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We then continued our journey to the Aire at the car park for the 360 degree cinema above Arromanches. The charge to stay here is 4 Euro for a Camping Car as we also had the Smart on a trailer behind and they charged an extra 2 Euro for the car. This is for day parking you can stay overnight at no extra charge but there are no services provided. There is another Aire in Arromanches up a narrow side street that has facilities.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We went to the 360 degree cinema and it was a very moving experience with the sound of bombing and gun fire with moving images of actual war footage of the invasion and the Mulberry B harbour in operation as well as images of today projected around the wall giving an impression that you are actually in the battle. There are no seats only rails to lean against.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We then had lunch and a siesta before going out again into Arromanches which is down a very steep hill. Fortunately there is little train that acts as a shuttle running that links the top car park with the town. We went into the D-Day museum in Arromanches which is situated on the edge of the town square and adjacent to the beach. You can clearly see the shape of the harbour that was build of 5 storey concrete casements that were towed across from England and sunk together with a line of ship to provide a breakwater into which a floating harbour was constructed starting the day after D-Day and was working within a matter of 3 or 4 days enabling the invading troops to be supplied as the Germans had fortified all of the other harbours or had them ready for destruction if they should be invaded. In the museum are models of the harbour and other military displays. It was also explained in a film that there was a strong gale a few days after D-Day and Mulbery A situated further along the coast was totally destroyed, but Mulberry B at Arromanches survived and was able to provide the invading troops with fuel and ammunition as well as men, vehicles and weapons. 18,000 tons of supplies were being brought in here each day without out it the push into Europe would not have been possible. After having a look around the town we took the last train back up the hill and had a good quiet night overlooking the bay and the remains of the harbour. The Aire is on the on the site of another German Radar Station that was totally wiped out and only a few remnants of it remain.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]2nd June. Today we moved on to Avranche. We tried to navigate without the sat nav and finished up back at Ouisreham again so we then set the sat nav to get us to the Aire at Avrance. We went along road that weren't even shown on our map but it got us eventually onto the A84 where we pulled into the services to top up our gas tank. We had intended to use the Aire here to empty our toilet but there was a wagon and trailer parked in it. There is no other point to park here as it is off the exit road. On looking at Google Earth it would appear to be a common practice for trucks to do this as there is one shown in the image at the same place. We continued our journey along the A84 to Avranche and to the Aire which is at the top of a very steep hill. The road then drops down to the Aire 48°41'11.47"N 1°22'4.84"W which has a Borne on level ground, but the parking is on a quite steep slope and despite double chocks we were still unable to get level. This Aire is free to use but the borne takes a 2 Euro coin to give 10 minutes of drinking water. The disposal in the toilet disposal point flushed free but there is no provision for separate water to flush the cassette out with. We used our waste water to do this.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]3rd June. After a night here we went to visit Mon San Michel in the Smart Car and parked on the causeway. There is good Motorhome parking here. We did spot Camping car signs outside two establishments along the road though, but we didn't investigate them. After a coffee and a spot of climbing to the abbey on top of the hill we returned to the car and had our picnic lunch before returning to the Aire at Avranche for another night.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]4th June. We spent today exploring Avranche and discovered a wonderful garden just above the Aire with fantastic views out over the bay to Mon San Michel. The air was almost full but at 17:00 lots of cars arrived and parked all over the available road and parking spaces. There is a Cultural Centre next to the Aire and many parents and children went into it from these cars. At 18:30 the cars began to clear. However a few Motorhome had arrived and being not able to park, left again. One French van however parked on the borne for the rest of the night. After the cars left two more motorhomes arrived making 12 in total on site. The slop of this site also puts many off and it is common to see vans arrive, look and drive away.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]5th June. We topped up with water and disposed of our toilet waste as we intended say goodbye to Normandy bypassing St Malo and to move onto St Cast-Le-Guildo Aire in Brittany 48°36'30.07"N 2°13'48.00"W (Pointe du Baye) which again is a free, but has no services. The run to the Aire was uneventful being mainly on fast dual carriageways. We seemed to have travelled quite as way on the map compared to other days, but it only took us under one and a half hours. The Aire here is very busy. There are very nice views out to sea but we are on top of a quite steep cliff. There is a path down, Joan attempted it and gave up. There is a police notice warning users to put all valuables out of site as the Aire is a target for thieves.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]There is another Aire lower down by sea, the with a service point, but parking is on the road side.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]6th June. From St Cast-Le-Guildo we made our way to Frehel where we sought out our first France Passion site on a goat farm and cheese maker. We were able to watch the goats being milked and half an hour later we were able to but 2 litres of fresh goats milk. This tasted fantastic and Joan was supprised with the taste as it was nothing like the milk she had bought in the UK. We were having problems with the gas burner in our fridge so we set too and had a look at it. It was burning but the flame was very small. It was enough to keep the igniter from sparking but not enough to heat the coolant to keep the fridge cold. It has been a problem for a while but seemed to be working fine up to parking on the sloping site at Avranche. It was working fine on mains and 12volt, it is only the gas that is not working. Tried using carburetor cleaner spray over the jet but that didn't seen to make any difference.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]7th June. From Frehel we moved only a short hop to Pleneuf Val Andre N 37.523 W 002 34.000 the Aire here is next to the marina with a view over the masts to the town. The fridge was not cooling and the milk we got went off. This is a very nice aire.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]8th June. We moved on from Pleneuf Val Andre to Plouha N 48 40.554 W 002 53.107. The Aire here is level grass for a change as all of the others we had used so far had been on dry bare earth or tarmac. We were carrying a fridge in the Smart car for use outside in the Safari Room. This also works on 240/12 volts and gas. I had used it before in England when we had a hookup on mains but had until now never used the gas. I took the pipe off the Safari Chef Barbecue and put it onto the fridge and got it going. This cooled rapidly so we transferred everything out of the internal fridge into it. We hadn't filled with water from arriving at Le Val Andre so we needed to put some it on the morning of the 9th June. We disconnected the outside fridge and the awning skirt that I had put on the night before in a heavy rain shower to protect the fridge. We then went to the Borne and connected the hose. This took 2 Euro for water but we found that it stopped at half a tank or 50 litres. Most on other airs had a limit of 10 minutes or 100 litres. After finishing all the other jobs at the borne we pulled back on the same pitch. I had only shoved the gas pipe on the fitting not clipped it on and on moving the fridge it had fallen off. I didn't notice this and Joan plugged the pipe into the barbeque point on the van and turned it on. I tried to light the fridge but could only smell gas and then there was a woosh and flames were shooting along the side of the van and up the step. I quickly moved the fridge away from the side of the van and disconnected the pipe from the Barbeque point. Joan had got the fire extinguisher out and found that it no longer was working. I had used it before to put out a small fire and thought it would be OK the re-use it as it was dry powder. The nozzle was all blocked up and was unusable, so two lessons learnt here don't just fit loose gas pipes and extinguishers are only one time use. We had a walk along the shingle beach last night, at low tide it is golden sand but the tide covers this completely at high tide. This had a good ramp down onto the sands and many small boats are launched here into the bay. The site is actually at Palus Plage a few Ks down the road from the town of Plouha and has a few houses and a couple of Restaurants and a Creperie. We are staying another night here.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]11th June We moved on to Tregastle N48 49.464 W003 29.881 the barrier was only working intermittently. The Bourne is custom made and whilst being quite good the tap for rinsing the cassette was in a position that made it difficult to get the water to go into it. There is a charge of 7 Euro a day to use this Aire and the borne if free. The ticket states that a stay of 7 days is permitted. Payment is by credit card (not Mistro or Visa Electron) but as the system was not working it turned out to be a free Aire for our stay.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]15th June. We left Tregastle and headed for a free Aire at Lannalis N48 33.420 W004 41.918 When we arrived we found this Aire is on a sloping site adjacent to the D13. Access is at the roundabout and then two left turns bringing you back to the side of the D13. The sat nav took us off to the right just before the roundabout through a narrow lane and back to the D13 opposite the now closed access road to the Aire. Building work on toilets was in progress with piles of materials and a digger. The area around Bourne didn't smell to pleasant so we left and moved on to Ploudalmezeau – Portsall N48 33.961 W004 41.918 This is a reasonably level grass field with plenty of space even for the largest unit. The Toilet block was locked and it looked like a new Bourne had been installed. This takes a card (debit or Credit) and dispenses 5 minutes of water or 55 minutes of electricity for 2 Euro. There were some graffiti on the building and elsewhere in the village. There was a notice about needles but we found no problems at all on the beautiful Aire. The Aire is free with unlimited stop so we decided to stay a few days and enjoy the nearby beach. Whilst the rest of France was having torrential rain we were having cold North Easterly winds and the temperature was only getting up to 14 c during the day. At home the forecasts were for 18 to 20c. We walked along the beach a couple of times and it was bracing. We went for a drive in the car to explore and found a E.Leclerc in Portsall 2 Km away. With the vans fridge not working and the wind blowing out the gas flame on the portable one out, we were resorting to buying fresh food every day. On Thursday the 17th the wind dropped and we decided to spend the afternoon on the beach which is only 2 minutes away from the Aire. We had a lazy day on site on the Friday before packing up to move on Saturday morning.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]19th June. Being in need of a top up of Gas to run the generator and for cooking, we made our way to Saint Renan and topped up at the Super U where we also did a shop. We have decided that in future we will not try to shop on a Saturday in France the crowds were horrendous. We then back tracked up the D5 to Lampaul Plouarzel. The Aire is in the dunes at N48 28.824 W004 46.584. This Aire is on a number of levels on a sloping site as well as a Euro Relais borne there are toilets and separate wash rooms in two buildings. There are many good sandy beaches here with cliff to walks. At 18:00 a young gentleman calls to collect the fee of 3.50 Euro each day, There is no stay limit . The borne takes 2 Euro coins and dispenses 10 minutes of water as well as Electricity.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]22nd June. Moved on to Camaret Sur Mer N 48 16.418 W 004 35.693. The Aire is divided in bays separated by flowering shrubs. Payment of 4 Euro per day at the machine at the entrance. The Bourne has places to dump from a toilet tank as well as the usual services at 2 Euro for 10 minutes of water. We had to use a pen to press the button mechanism as the button was missing, electricity is 2 Euro for 80 minutes. We went for a walk to the Menhirs (standing stones in lines) that are just outside of the Aire and then to the runes of a Manor house build by a French poet and then walked along the top of the cliff to the Musuem of the Battle of the Atlantic which is situated within the massive German gun battery that protected Brest during WWII. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Had a day of rest on the beach topping up our tans on the 23rd and went to find a Museum of minerals on the 24th but found it shut for lunch so we went to Cameret Sur Mer and had our lunch of Moules in a restaurant overlooking the beach and harbour.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]25 June. [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Cleden-Sap-Sizen N 48 02.915 W 004 39.030 has a nice spacious under-used Aire which is in a large car park just on the outskirts of the town opposite the cemetery. The Bourne had one side not working and care is needed when discharging the cassette. Again no rinse facility for the cassette. In this area of France they have a flush built into the borne but the only water available is from the drinking water taps at 10 minutes for 2 Euro.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We decided to stay here and explore the Pointe du Raz area using the car as the roads around this area are very narrow. 26[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]th[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif] June we went to Point du Raz and parked in the visitors centre there are Motor home parking bays here and you can stay overnight without any services for 15 Euro The Aire at Cleden Sap Sizen is free. We explored the area and found the France Passion site at Cap Helix so will have a night there. The streets here are very narrow and there is a very tight blind area by the medieval church.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]27 June. Drove 7 km to [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Cap' Helix Escargots Visited the Prance Passion site at N 48 03.071 W 004 34.345. Had tour of the site and bought some snails in Garlic Butter? These were very chewy and we didn't like them. The taste was not bad but it was like chewing a piece of rubber. Although the French like to think that eating snails in something French the actual snail species in common use for producing edible snails are from Belarus. The snails are housed in long green net tunnels and feed on clover and radishes as well as supplements containing limestone for their shells. There is a sprinkler system to ensure a damp environment. The harvest 250,000 kilos of snails per year and it takes two years for a snails egg to reach harvesting size. They get the eggs in February from last years stock.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]28 June. [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Pont L'Abbe (E.LECLERC) N 47 51.849 W 004 14.152. Very hot today with temps 28 to 30 degrees c. Nice supermarket Aire with borne and 12 marked Motor home bays. Four of these bays are against the back fence and have 230v hookup facilities. We hooked up and put our money in for 3 x 7 hours of electric but it cut out after 30 minutes. We sought help and they restored our connection. You can only have 7 hours at a time putting in extra coins does not increase the time as we found out. They gave us our money back though.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]29 June. Drove past Quiberon and out on the Spit of land just before Port Maria to the Aire at N 47 29.500 W 003 08.334, adjacent to the Municipal Camping at Kerne. This is under redevelopment with new tarmac and a barrier system is being installed. The cost is 5 Euro per night plus water at 1 euro for 33 litres. The Borne is a custom one with all the usual facilities but the taps for cleaning the cassette were again not working leaving the drinking water tap as the only water supply. The push button rinsing facilities were rather pathetic and didn't clean anything away when used as only a trickle came out of the jets. The ticket machine (Horodateur) was unreliable and we learned not to park near these machine as lots of people wanted change from us if we could supply it. We had problems ourselves in keeping enough 1 and 2 Euro coins for the machines and bornes. We went into Port Maria and went into a bank but found that some French banks do not operate like UK banks and they do not have facilities to change notes for coins. The gentleman in the bank did however direct us to “La Post” where they have a machine that take 20, 10 or 5 Euro notes and give change in coins. We stocked our supply of coins up here. Most of our shopping was done using cards or notes and we didn't ever seem to acquire enough change in these transactions. This Aire is on the Cote Sauvage and there is no bathing on this side of the spit as the waters are dangerous even when calm. On the 30th we had a morning at the Alignment at Quiberon which are hundreds of stone Dolmen and Menhirs in lines and date from the same period as Stone Henge. We went on the Petit Train around this monument and the town of Quiberon. This is interesting as these trains also have commentary in English. We will have another day here and then move on.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]This has been a very interesting month on the road. Lots of lessons learned. July will take us further south and west befor returning to the UK mid month.[/FONT]
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.