5 March 2019

March 2019

Apologies the blog is a bit behind however I will be catching it up to date soon after we return from Goa later this month. I had planned on bringing it up to date whilst in Goa this winter however I left my blog notes at home!! Silly me!!

31 August 2017

August 2017

Vineyard at Chacé


August 2017

28th August. Well it's been a roller coaster few months since we returned to the UK in May following Lisa's stroke. The initial fear was replaced with elation when the paralysis lifted after the operation on her brain to fix the damaged blood vessels that had caused the stroke but what has followed has been a long and slow recovery. She has learned how to become mobile and manage with no feeling down her left side and hopefully in time the feeling will gradually recover as she can feel difference in temperatures and can also feel pain. We can only hope......and as Lisa said herself, all things considered she feels she is very lucky to have recovered as well as she has. She still has a long way to go but is determined enough that she will achieve the best that can be hoped for. On top of that we had the house sale and purchase to deal with and the first week of July found us loading up the removal van to head to our new address. There is a lot of work to do as the property has been empty for over 18 months and hadn't been decorated for many years so we will certainly have plenty to keep us occupied in between travelling!! As Lisa is now well enough for us to consider travelling again we decided to head to France for 3 weeks and explore the Brittany coast. As we are no longer in the UK enough to earn our Tesco club card points we have finally run out of vouchers for the Eurotunnel so yesterday found us setting off at the crack of dawn to get the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk. It was a pleasant 2 hour crossing and we sat in the lounge drinking coffee while we watched the news. After spending last night at Mesnières-en-Bray we set of for Chacé today to meet up with our friends Val and John who were also in France travelling roughly the same area.
A night on the vineyard
We stopped for lunch half way at a lovely little town called La Fleche and we parked on a small Aire on the edge of the river while we ate lunch. We then carried on to Chacé where there is a France Passion site that welcomes Motorhomes so we found ourselves parked along the edge of a beautiful vineyard with nothing but some grapevines and each other for company. What else is there to do on a gorgeous night in such a fabulous setting but to fire up the barbecue and crack open the wine. As is often the way the wine led on to port and we sat enjoying the sunset with a lovely view of the chateau while we shared our travel plans and raised a toast to a good trip for all of us.
 
Just the two of us!!
29th August. As is so often the way our plans changed before we had even reached midday. We started the morning with wine tasting at the vineyard before waving goodbye to Val and John. A quick check of the weather forecast showed that we might be better avoiding our original destination of Il d'Oloron so we decided to change direction and headed to Les Sables d'Olonne instead. After setting up on a lovely Aire near the marina we explored the area on our bikes before settling for an early night. We only cycled 12 kms but it was nice to get an idea of the area. 
Not quite as sunny as i like!
30th August. Waking up to blue skies encouraged us to don our cycling kit and get out on our bikes today. After a quick ride to Lidl and Decathlon for some essentials we decided to head up the coast following a  cycle route to Bretignolles-Sur-Mer. During the ride the clouds started to appear and we hadn't long been back when a few spots of rain started to fall. We had enjoyed a very nice 55km ride though and had seen some lovely scenery along the route. It was nice to be out on the bikes again after a long break. 
31st August. We were pleased to wake up to sunny skies after the showers that developed late yesterday. We donned our cycling kit again and headed through the town centre and to the coast before following the beach out of town as it turned from sandy to rocky and the waves turned to white foam as they crashed on to the shore.
Olonne-sur-Mer
We saw some beautiful buildings and every thing looked very clean and well maintained with excellent cycle paths and cyclist priority on roundabouts. This is definitely a cycle friendly area and with little to tax the legs in the way of hills it is also an ideal area for the casual cyclist. We only covered a leisurely 24kms compared with the longer ride yesterday but it was just nice to get our legs spinning and so lovely to visit an area that had been our wish list for some time. Our plan for the next 3 weeks is to work our way around the Brittany Coast and hope that the rain holds off long enough to allow us to explore the rugged and beautifully diverse coastline that includes the Emerald coast and the Cote de Granit Rose. We also want to view the standing stones and burial mounds at Carnac and Locmariaquer as well as seeking out the famous metal serpent at Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins that I discovered during my research of this area of France and of all the things I read about this particular exhibit appealed to me the most.  
Noirmoutier
1st September. Accompanied by rain clouds we set off for the Island of Noirmoutier, set in the Bay off Biscay and attached to the mainland by a causeway. Our original destination at the top of the island was full but we managed to find a space on the municipal campsite. After lunch we were delighted to welcome some clear skies and sunshine so we wasted no time in getting the bikes out and set off to explore the area. We followed cycle paths to the top of the island and then took the main roads to the south and the causeway before heading home, a nice 33km ride. It was very windy on the island but very pretty with lots of whitewashed houses with blue shutters that made me feel like we were in Greece at times.
The metal serpent
2nd Spetember. I was very excited to get started today so we could go in search of the giant serpent and had checked to make sure it would be low tide so that it would be fully visible. We drove to St-Brevin-Les-Pins but were initially unable to locate the sculpture. I really must practice my French as we stopped twice to ask for directions but my description of the serpent drew blank stares!! We eventually found the sculpture as you head out of town along the coast. It is an amazing creation by the Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping and it's 400 foot long structure sits nestled on the edge of the sea so that at low tide you can stand inside its rib cage while at high tide it appears to be rising out of the water. After a suitable amount of time taking photos and admiring the serpent we set off for St Nazaire but finding the Aire full we eventually ended up on a campsite at Kersavary, just outside Guerande. An afternoon ride led us to the coast at La Baule-Escoublac before heading to the lovely medieval town of Guerande to explore. A faster and more energetic ride which added another 29kms to our total. Another example of how small the world can be, we discovered a couple from our old village, Dave and Sue, were also staying at the campsite so we enjoyed a lovely relaxing evening together over a glass or two of wine.
Guerande
4th September. After driving to Rochefort en Terre to view the 17th century buildings  and Josselin to view the medieval fortress we ended up in Baden to meet up with Val and John at another France Passion site. This time it was an oyster business right on the edge of the water. Val and John were laughing as they were parked next to a French couple and the man was a really funny character who seemed to have a thing about engines. Val told us that as soon as they had parked up he was round looking at their engine. No sooner had we parked up than he came round to lift our bonnet and check out our engine too. He advised Glynn he needed to top up his water and apparently we got off lightly as he gave John a long list of things he felt needed attention much to Val's amusement. When the barbecues came out the Frenchman insisted we tried his oysters (nice enough but won't be rushing to buy any!!). The 6 of us enjoyed a fun evening swapping wines and sharing stories in our best Franglais. The 'crazy frenchman', as we had nicknamed him, was a keen wine connoisseur and he took great delight in getting us to sample his fine wine and he even managed to try our best bargain supermarket wine without pulling a face!!
Quiberon coastline
5th September. After bidding everyone farewell we set off to explore Quiberon, with its beautiful savage coastline, and then on to Carnac to see the famous stones. Wow, I had no idea there were so many of them. We stopped on the free Aire to have lunch before departing for Concarneau passing many more of the stones as we headed out of the area. Our campsite was a short walk away from a small private beach but sadly the weather was not conducive to swimming or sunbathing as the clouds had won their battle to obscure the sun and showers fell intermittently.
Concarneau
Morlaix
8th September. Over the last 3 days we have explored the area around Concarneau before driving to Quimper, Chateaulin, Brest and finally on to St Thégonnec where we spent the night on a lovely free Aire that even included a picnic table on our pitch. We managed to cycle  another 46kms when we explored around Concarneau but haven't managed to get out on the bikes since then. The weather seems to be deteriorating with less sun and more cloud and showers each day that passes. This morning we drove to Morlaix which we explored on foot and climbed the steps to the top of the huge viaduct that passes through the centre of the town. We then followed the stunning coastline around Plestin-Les-Grèves and up to Trebuerden to see the pink granite. In spite of the cloudy sky and the odd shower the sea ranged in shades from blue to turquoise and looked beautiful. We carried on around the coast to Trégastel and then on to Perros-Guirec. It was a beautiful hilly area with a stunning bay looking out towards several small islands. It was such a shame the weather was against us so we settled for a quick admiring view of the scenery before heading slightly inland to Loudéac just as the heavens opened.
Perros-Guirec
9th September. We awoke to a lovely bright morning and as we had been stuck in the Motorhome all yesterday afternoon because of the rain I had already checked the maps and planned a lovely cycle route to Mûr-de-Bretagne. It was a nice 26km ride along cycle paths with some easy gradients and we enjoyed a nice coffee stop before heading back just as a huge black cloud appeared and decided to dump its load on us. Luckily we had rain jackets with us so didn't get too wet and within 5 minutes it was back to watery sunshine. As the route back was more downhill it was a quick and easy ride and after lunch we set off again to go and stock up on some more groceries taking advantage of the rain calling a truce for now. We had managed a nice 62kms today so that made up for the previous days of enforced rest. 
11th September. Yesterday's overcast but dry day allowed us to explore Rohan
The lake at Loudeac
and Loudeac centre before heading around the lovely lake next to our campsite, cycling 37kms in total.  We then enjoyed a quiet evening playing Sequence which I won 3-2 bringing our total to 10-10 so all to play for before this trip ends!! Most evenings we play either crib or Sequence and we are very evenly matched so it gets quite competitive!! This morning we left Loudéac and headed to Château-Gontier and a lovely free Aire on the bank of the Mayenne river with excellent cycle paths in both directions. We cycled 40kms along the river enjoying the lovely scenery and after lunch we took a walk to explore the town which had lots of lovely narrow cobbled streets with some medieval buildings leading to a nice open centre. 
Got to have a cow picture!!
12th September. We drove to Courville-sur-Eire and after a quick explore of the town and a lunch break we decided to carry on to one of our favourite Aires at Nonacourt. Unfortunately it is only a small Aire so it was no surprise to find it was already full when we got there. We pulled over on to the forecourt of the adjacent fire station while we looked at the map to try and decide where to head when a car pulled up beside us and out stepped a lady in a firefighters uniform. I thought we were in trouble for stopping on the forecourt and using my best Franglais apologised profusely and said we were leaving when she replied in very good English that we were more than welcome to stay on the edge of the forecourt for the night.
Courville-sur-Eure
How lovely was that!! 
We pulled over to where she had indicated and shortly afterwards another Motorhome pulled in and joined us. Unfortunately what we didn't realise was that we would end up getting very little sleep!! We were parked next to the training tower and a hose had been left unsecured after the last training session which meant when the wind got up in the night the metal end of the hose was banging against the metal frame of the tower. 
14th September. After spending yesterday on a private Aire  on a farm at Grigneuseville with nothing but horses and rain for company we moved on to Le Treport this morning. In a brief break in the weather we quickly dashed in to town to buy some lovely fresh mussels and made it back to the Motorhome just as the rain started again. After a lovely dinner enjoying the fresh mussels in a white wine sauce we decided to admit defeat with the weather and called the ferry company to change our booking as we clearly wouldn't be doing any more cycling. We managed to get a ferry for 8pm tomorrow so enough time to stock up at Calais Wine Superstore in the morning!!
Well it has been a lovely trip and great to finally explore the coast around Brittany however it ended up being a rather rushed exploration trying to keep one step ahead of the rain. In spite of this we still managed to cycle 355 kms over the last 2 weeks which is better than nothing. The highlight for me was seeing the serpent at St-Brevin-Les-Pins however there were many beautiful places and there is no denying it really is a stunning area. I just managed to scrape a lead on Sequence by 12-11 and I won Crib by 7-2 We now have approximately 6 weeks until we head to Goa for the winter so time to get some more decorating done first!!
Batz-sur-Mer


Les Sables-d'Olonne






Les Sables-d'Olonne


La Fleche












St Brevin-les-Pins




Rochefort-en-Terre


Rochefort-en-Terre


Rochefort-en-Terre


Rochefort-en-Terre


Rochefort-en-Terre


Rochefort-en-Terre


Josselin


Josselin






Châteaulin


Brest


Saint Thégonnec




Morlaix


Coastline near Plestin-les-Grèves


Trebeurden


Trebeurden










Loudéac




Loudéac


Mayenne river near Villiers-Charlemagne


Mayenne River


Château-Gontier
Pink granite





31 May 2017

May 2017

May 2017.

Well it has been an eventful time since we got home from Goa on the 19th March. We carried on where we left off in November and finished decorating the house and had a new kitchen fitted so it was all pretty chaotic for a while. The aim was to get the house up for sale before setting off in the Motorhome to Spain to spend a few weeks at the Mediterraneo Camperstop in Calpe meeting up with friends before heading round to northern Italy and then to the Alps after we'd had to delay our planned trip to the Alps last year. As with all the best ideas they rarely go to plan and much to our surprise we had a viewing the first day the house went up for sale and they made an offer which we accepted. This meant we were suddenly trying to arrange as many viewings as possible in order to find a replacement home before we set off for Spain and it meant we would probably have to return at the beginning of June to sign contracts and pack up everything. It looked like yet again my trip to the Alps was going to have to be postponed but for good reason. Luckily the house hunting went well and we soon had an offer accepted on a bungalow we are keen on. This meant we had a few weeks to escape before we need to return and deal with the house move so on the 25th April we set off for Eurotunnel and soon found ourselves back on French soil. We spent 3 days travelling to the south of France and the weather was a mixed bag of rain, wind, snow and sleet. After we passed through Millau and rose up the other side the weather suddenly seemed to change and the snow on the ground quickly disappeared as the temperature rose from near freezing to 15° and sunny. 

Beautiful orange tree
1st May. We spent the last 3 days of April at Gruissan just relaxing and enjoying being back in the Motorhome. As it was very windy we had only managed one 30km ride along the cycle paths inland as it was too blustery along the seafront.  Today we set of for Palamos in Spain as we worked our way south and the Pyrenees looked stunning still capped in snow as we crossed the border. Palamos is a favourite stopover for us as we always like to go and see Jose and Nuria at Commercial Ferrer where we bought our Trek bikes two years ago.

5th May. After two nights in Palamos and a further two in Peniscola we were now heading for Barx to meet up with our friends Teresa and David who we met in Goa through mutual friends . They live in Barx but spend part of the winter in Goa and had invited us to visit them when they heard we were heading for Calpe. The beauty of heading south in Spain is the increasing number of orange groves that occupy a large part of the view. The lovely contrast between the dark green leaves and the bright orange fruit never fails to please me.
Monastery of Santa Maria at Simat
I assumed we would be staying in our Motorhome parked on their drive but they had a fabulous 1 bed apartment on the ground floor of their villa which Teresa had kitted out for us with everything that you could think off and showing that she was the hostess with mostest she had even included brandy and chocolate. I knew we were going to be spoilt during our stay. That evening after David had picked up his niece Lesley and her daughter Abbie from the airport we enjoyed a lovely meal and lots of wine at one of their local restaurants and I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when the entire bill for the 6 of us was only €60. It just goes to show how much prices drop when you head away from the tourist resorts. 

the view from near Simat
7th May. We have spent a wonderful 2 days with Teresa and David. They took us to a bodega where we could buy brandy by the litre decanted in to empty water bottles at a price you wouldn't believe and then on to a cheese factory to buy some fabulous cheese. What greater combination is there than cheese and wine followed by a snifter of brandy!!
They also took us to Simat to explore the monastery and admire the incredible views down to the coast. After chilling by the pool all morning and enjoying David's lovely chicken paella for lunch we set off for Calpe late afternoon. It was just as well we were leaving as Teresa knows how to put on a spread and I think we probably gained about 4lb each in the 2 days we were with them!!

What do you mean no purse!!
9th May. After a lovely coastal ride to Moreira yesterday we decided to go a bit further today and cycled in the opposite direction to Albir. It was a gorgeous hot day and after a lovely ride we arrived looking forward to a nice coffee and tapas. It was at this point that we realised that neither of us had packed the purse. Classic mistake!! Our drinks bottles were already getting low as it had been a hot ride so we decided we should head straight back. It was a lovely 36km ride but would definitely have been better with a coffee break!! Guess what was the first thing we did when we got back!!

10th May. Today we went out on a ride with our friends Sandra and Colin. They are much fitter than us and always take us further than we would go on our own. We did a lovely but hilly ride to Xalo (Jalon) which warranted 2 cups of coffee when we stopped for a break!! We had a great day and cycled just over 45kms and I was definitely in need of a rest when we got back.
With Colin & Sandra at Xalo
 

16th May. 2 days ago we did a ride to Benissa via the coast road as the views are stunning. It is a long steady climb with occasional dips and I was delighted to do it without stopping as hills are really not my favourite thing. We got to Benissa in 1 hour and 3 minutes so I told Glynn my aim would be to do it in less than an hour next time. Today I decided it was time to do the ride again and with a target of less than 1 hour we set off. When I arrived at the café in Benissa looking rather red faced after a hot and strenuous ride I was absolutely over the moon that I had done it in 57 minutes and 29 seconds. Glynn's response was that I could aim for sub 55 minutes next time, I can't print my answer!! Colin and Sandra had invited us over to their Camperstop for a BBQ so after a very fast ride back down to Calpe and a cool shower to refresh we headed over to theirs and enjoyed a lovely relaxed afternoon.
Colin ready to rock the BBQ!!

17th May. Today we had arranged to cycle to Benidorm for a big full English breakfast with Sandra and Colin. We figured after riding that far we would deserve it. It was a very hot day and it was lovely to arrive and relax in the shade fortifying ourselves with our breakfast and coffees before we headed back. The nice thing about riding with others who are fitter is it pushes you out of your comfort zone both in terms of distance and speed and I was pleased to see we had cycled just over 49kms by the time we got back. The afternoon involved little more than relaxing by the motorhome and a few games of crib which I lost 3-0!! 

20th May. We did another ride along the coast to Moreira 2 days ago and enjoyed a lazy day yesterday morning followed by lunch with our friends Jan and Del who live in Calpe and then drinks at Tres Palmeras, a Friday afternoon ritual to see if we could win the meat raffle ( I didn't but did win a meat pie!!).
Me and Jan with our prizes!!
Today we had no plans to do anything strenuous and then we got one of those phone calls you never want to get. My son called to say that his wife Lisa had suffered a stroke that morning and had been rushed to hospital. He was desperately trying to hold himself together and it was heartbreaking to hear his distress and not be there immediately to comfort him. They had celebrated their first wedding anniversary only 3 days ago!! I assured him we would be home as quickly as possible and within an hour we had packed up everything, paid our bill and were on the road. By the evening we had made it as far as Sabananigo in the Pyrenees. It was a relief to get an update from Darryl to say that although Lisa was still paralysed she was showing signs of improvement. 

22nd May. After a mammoth 11 hour drive yesterday and a 4.30am start today we finally made it home just after 5pm. it was great to be able to hug Darryl and be there to help support and reassure him through a really tough time. We know it will a long and difficult recovery for Lisa but hopefully with the support of all her family and friends she will make it as she is a strong and determined girl.

UPDATE. I am pleased to say that a week after Lisa suffered the stroke she had an operation on her brain to untangle and repair the damaged blood vessels that had caused the stroke and she awoke from the operation to discover that she was no longer paralysed. It was a huge step forward but as she still has no feeling on the left side of her body there is a long and hard rehabilitation period to come and we are all praying that she continues to make good progress.
At Simat Monastery

The ceiling in Simat Monastery

David with Lesley & Abbie

Raising a glass with Teresa & David



Looking a bit flushed in Benissa!!

Sandra & Glynn waiting for their burger

Enjoying paella at Mediterraneo