Month: July 2016

5 to 10 July – to the east

The sun, the heat, the flies….

cropped-snails-poor.jpgIt’s hell out there Carruthers, but someone has to do it…  The heat is rising again and we are on the move again.  This time to the east – the Jura – somewhere we have only visited  in passing.  It has mountains, trees and rivers though and sounds cool and inviting.

Setting out is a real pain.  We have become over-casual about the packing and do not do enough in the cool of the previous evening so have to run around collecting all the forgotten things as the sun starts getting nasty.  Do tempers fray?  Maybe they do.  Cool is certainly lost in more ways than one.   Next time everything bar the fresh stuff will be sorted out  days in advance for a cool and collected start!  Of course it will.  It is only when we are an hour away that for some reason we start thinking about passports and driving licences and EHICs.  Well – I have the passports.  I carefully took them out of the pouch with the other valuable documents and put the rest carefully back in a safe place indoors:-(  Apparently it is an instant fine if you cannot produce your driving licence when asked.  For the past 16 years they have stayed safely indoors.  Oops. Should we turn back after such an inauspicious start?  We don’t.

The aire at Autun is next to a lake Autun airewith a marina but no swimming.  There is no shade to park in but trees a few yards away by the water.  The parkings are narrow, as if marked out for cars but signposted for mohos.  Like the couple of vans already there we take our one-and-a-half pitches and, edging our rear overhang over the kerb behind us, discover by ear where our spare tyre is slung. Underneath in a sturdy metal cradle as it happens.  No harm done.

Apparently the town is full of roman ruins and medieval buildings so we take the 15 minute uphill walk to Centre Ville as the early afternoon sun beats mercilessly down on the cobbles.  Towards the top a beautiful quadruple avenue of trees gives a couple of hundred yards of shade and hosts the post-prandial boules match.  Another tree lined square at the top provides shady café tables and cool, cool drinks.

Perrier menthe – icily refreshing and probably cleans your teeth at the same time.

Autun tower

We wander the medieval streets and churches for some time.  Back at the aire several more vans have turned up and edged in.  People have now broken out their tables and chairs (not strictly allowed in aires but done everywhere) and are sitting in the shade of their own vans or under the trees having the evening apero.  At least the unencumbered view of the sweltering southern sky means we get satellite because our mobile wifi is having difficulty getting enough bandwidth to do very much.

A good night’s sleep on the level-enough surface and we head off to Les Trois Ours campsite  in Montbarrey on the Loue. Plenty of scope for weak jokes there.  We can have a standard pitch for the normal rate or pay extra for river frontage.  Ours pitchWe opt for standard this time but our cable is too short to reach the electrical point so we end up with riverside anyway.  🙂  And what a pitch – mere feet away from the river with some shade and satellite reception.

The awning comes out and is draped with sarongs and towels to extend the reach of the shade.  I blog in the relative cool – wifi reception (our own) is adequate here if slow. We both swim. It gets hotter and hotter and we swim both at dusk and dawn.  Showering becomes optional as we are in and out of the water all day anyway.  Neil grows a beard.

Ours beard

The downside – the flies!  Mon dieu!  The first day there were a few – but only a normal sort of number. The second they seemed to have multiplied in the heat and by afternoon were pestilential – but only under the awning – fastening themselves to its underside and the shade on the side of the van – providing an easy target for Neil’s deadly swat.  Ours breakfastSo the solution was simple – the flies could have the shade of the awning and we would have the much cooler shade the trees.  The lady at the at the Accueil claimed it was due to all the rain this year.  That rain is getting the blame for a lot of things. The number eased off again the next day when the weather cooled a bit. Or maybe Neil had actually killed them all.

It was a lovely stay. Lovely river, lovely wild life, lovely weather for sitting in the shade beside the river.  Or in the river.

We had expected a small shop on site but it was not stocked up yet although you could order bread for the morning.  The nearest shop was seven kilometres away – too far to cycle. Even in the cool! We had just about enough food and drink, supplemented by a meal at the cafe on site.  And there was a bar on site as well – so no need to panic!  But definitely need to get a gas barbeque. Even when there is a breeze it does not seem to blow through the kitchen end.

I had plotted a two day return looping further east to some lakes and waterfalls but we decided to head back for some guaranteed cool at home and because storms were predicted in the next day or two.  We had one stopover at L’Etang-sur-Arroux. Another campsite on the water’s edge – beautiful for a swim.  Etang riverToo expensive this one (27.50) but I had expected an ACSI discount since it offered them until 9th July.  The dates are not inclusive though and 9th was the first day of full prices. Boo.   Too few and too far for the sanitaires but good site-wide wifi and excellent shade (and satellite!).  And no flies – so Neil could rest.

Etang neil snooze

Things learnt:

  • Get the van sorted before the morning of departure.  We have a check list for making sure the van itself is ready (things shut, turned off etc) but what we need is a list of things to retrieve from the laundry, the fridge, the bookcase, the electronics cupboard, the back of the car etc.
  • Pick up your required documents
  • No danger of us ever changing a tyre – you need specialist equipment just to get the spare off. Maybe we have it in the tool kit.  But could we jack up 3.5 tonnes with any degree of confidence?
  • Be prepared for campsite facilities not being as advertised – provision up.
  • The 3 roaming package has its limitations due to French providers strangling  bandwidth (or some such technical miserliness).

 

 

 

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28 June to 4 July – back to base

get home, chill, plant…

We extended our stay at Beaulieu by a day as it was so lovely and we needed time to adjust to the idea of packing up and moving on.  We will probably return in August when the school holidays are coming to an end.  Many years ago on a campsite at L’Amelie-sur-plage  a French Daddy with baby Mirabelle on his shoulder told us the rain always started on 15 August so French holiday makers tended to go home.  So – an opportunity for quieter visits. L'AmelieHere we are in 1990, in our first tent on our first trip – just behind the dune on the Atlantic coast.  Our favourite site until we found Beaulieu.  This site really has changed now – it has expanded by acquiring all the plots around it and putting in lots of fun things:-( The coastline has changed too and the dune has been reinforced somehow with boulders and concrete, limiting direct access to the water.  We probably won’t revisit this one on our nostalgic wanderings.

We pack, fill, empty, pay and leave to get back to the fermette with only one night en route. Municipal chambonThis will be in Chambon-sur-Voueize, Limousin.  It is a Municipal campsite and therefore cheap (7.80 inc electricity). It is a delightful site – old fashioned, shady laid-back.  We do the same sky pondering, judging the angle of the sun for the time of day, position of trees and park optimistically up.  Yay – satellite works and shade is abundant.

We take a walk into town.  We are brought up to think England is full of wonderful historic towns and cities, which it is, but why are we so unaware that France is even fuller of them. And they don’t make such a song and dance about it,

just look after them and enjoy them without heaving crowds of tourists.

Me roses Chambon

The temperature has fallen nicely so we sit in long trousers and enjoy a little drink in the peace of the countryside.

Neil at Chambon again.jpg

To get to the campsite we (together with the locals) had had to weave around several ominous route barée signs suggesting complications for the next few days. The Gardienne of the site compounded the confusion by shaking her head sorrowfully saying we will probably have to leave before 8:00 to get out at all in the next three or four days.  We had not seen her before parking up as she had gone off to a school function apparently.  So we are a bit aggrieved at having committed to such bad arrangement – it takes a couple of hours to get up and go – so a 6.00 am wake up:-(  Eventually her pompier husband says what she said is rubbish as they do not arrange roadworks in such a way as to cut entire villages off for three days so we take a chance and sleep a normal night.  In the end we leave on the road we want at 10:30 and all the signs have magically disappeared. Pouf!

An uneventful ride home and we find hanging basket.jpgthe recently planted geraniums on the terrace have not died – hurrah! It has been raining on and off here it seems. The soil is therefore perfect for digging up a section of turf to make a bed for a few tomatoes.  There is a natural spring that runs under our tiny terrain opposite the house.  This spring feeds the lavoir next to our plot and means that the ground there is nearly always well watered.  In fact, stick a spade in and, apart from cracking your elbow and jarring your teeth by hitting a large stone,  you will find the hole you create gathers a puddle in the bottom. The beauty of this arrangement is that I will not have to water the tomatoes every day in the heat of the summer.  Well – that’s the theory and I have three tomato plants overdue for planting out.  The other main danger is slugs and there has been mole activity in the past.  Hopefully the recent wet weather has driven them to our neighbour’s drier plot.  But don’t tell him I said so – he has a bit of a war going on with them:-(

Now we need to go away again and see if they survive!

Before that we have some days out to enjoy.  A brocante at Champallement is lovely and we buy a brass bell. But forget to take pictures.  Eating our sandwichs de jambon we sit next to Annie and are chatted to in a variety of languages she thinks approximate English but owe a lot to German and or Dutch.  We receive an invitation to her husband’s vernissage (which means a preview of an art exhibition in case you were wondering  (I was –  had to look it up later.)).  They keep a bohemian, international open house most of the time apparently, so looking forward to that.

On the way back we go to the spooky Sign for siteGallo-Roman remains of Compierre in the nearby woods.  This is an amazing array of ruins of what was a substantial town spreading several hundred meters into the wood, complete with amphitheatre.  It feels remote and only one other car arrives and leaves while we are there.  A site like this in the UK would be a major tourist attraction. Here we wander the full length of the site with no-one else in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil sits on the walls of the temple

neil at Compierre

but they have been wanting you to desist from climbing on them for some time…

compierre - tree sign

Bit of a patchwork of our travels this time – sorry – but with one giant leap I am now only a couple of weeks behind!  It would be better to be more contemporary as so much detail is lost in a few days:-(

 

22 to 27 June – Beaulieu, beautiful place

Plus ça change..

A meander in the river Dordogne……

Chapel des penitents

 

 

 

 

 

the remains of a medieval city…….

Arch in Beaulieu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a tree-covered island in the stream – which is nowadays a tranquil campsite.

pitch view beaulieu

I hardly know where to begin when it comes to talking about Beaulieu and Camping des Îles – it was one of the first few wonderful campsites we discovered in 1994.  We returned for a few days every year for ten years, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends or family always with a bigger, better tent and more kit as finances allowed.  So it means a lot to us. Over those years it changed hands from a low-key family-run affair to a more business-like operation but never lost its cool, green charm.

We arrive as the temperature on the road hits 31 degrees. Just as we approach the ancient wooden walkway that spans the very narrow road to the site, the manager is leaving in his van.  He waves us back and points out the height under the  walkway is 3m dead.  And we are 3m 10cm!  Disappointment clutches our hearts.  Mercifully, he indicates there is a back way in over a new bridge and if we hang on for ten he will lead the way for us.  Much winding back through the streets later we reach the Accueil from the other side. Phew! Optimistically clutching my ACSI card in the hopes of a good discount the receptionist says we can have a big discount OR a premium riverside pitch. Given the 31 degrees we opt for the riverside. (22.40 per night inc. hook up.)  Ah well. I guess we will have to economise elsewhere.

In this weather good pitch selection is premised on two things – shade and satellite reception.  In that order.  I figure out belatedly, that, unfortunately, the sun and the satellite occupy pretty much the same part of the sky.  South in general for the first and 28 degrees east of south for the second.  Hmmm.  The van will need to be fairly precisely positioned between the trees to to get both.  We try a couple of pitches and then, melting in the heat, tuck Portia into a piece of shade that may give a sliver of a view of the right piece of sky. It doesn’t. But with good site-wide wifi we don’t need the satellite.  We can still get Radio 4 on the internet.  Hurrah!

Straight into the water! Neil in dordogneI don’t think so.  The water is 15 degrees (according to a naval chap a couple of pitches down).  Getting in was a series of gasps and yelps and determination.  In the past we have been here in August and it seems to make a difference!  Also, due to all the rain, the river is currently very high and strongly  flowing – usually it runs relatively gently over the stones at this side and only has a deep fast channel over there by the trees. It is only eighteen inches deep but  I am worried about being dragged away over the stones because I seem to float on surface of the flood rather  than sink to the bottom.  Neil seems OK but is hanging on. Clearly women are  more buoyant with all that subcutaneous fat. Well – that’s my story:-)  I find a stick for anchoring myself and bob about like an oversize pink ice cube.

In the morning the sun does not hit the van until about 11.00 and stays on us until about 14:30.  So the positioning was not a complete failure for shade but it is so hot it makes only a couple of degrees  difference inside.  All windows are open and all fly screens closed, the awning is out.  I drape beach towels over the open windows when the sun sneaks in around the side. No chance of cooking inside in this heat – we must get a Cadac gas barbeque to use outside.  Portia has a connection for the barbeque already installed but a good barbeque is quite pricey.  We have yet to figure out how Amazon works in France. You can also get effective 12v fans  but I had already dismissed that idea because they cost £78.00! To balance the baking daytime heat we get we get beautiful sunsets and balmy nights.

Beaulieu sunset

It is 23 June – an auspicious day. The last one when we will be complete Europeans but we didn’t know that then.  We postal voted a couple of weeks ago.  We are surrounded (loosely speaking) by chatty and friendly Swiss, French and German campers, plus the British naval chap Nick and his wife Meg.  (Nick is the only other person we have seen swimming – mad dogs clearly. There is also a sun blasted swimming pool by the way.)  He wanders over with a bottle of fizz and suggests that we meet up tomorrow to celebrate or commiserate accordingly.  We laugh at the thought of Leave taking the day. Ho ho ho. We leave the radio on low overnight: a slight hint of Leave doing well up North as we drop off; puzzled commentary on Leave doing better than expected in the middle of the night; shocked analysis when we wake up and find Brexit has done it.  Quizzical, sympathetic looks follow us on our shamefaced walk to the showers that morning and many conversations are had during the day.  It seems the Swiss don’t like the open borders either (had a vote) but can’t leave in protest as they are not members.  But they may now have another vote.  We share the fizz later anyway.

Beaulieu has shops and resturants 200m away in town.  Beaulieu townWe have scoured the traiteur on the square for lasagne but ended up with cold roast chicken (very nice).  We bought local strawberries at the SuperU – the area is known for them – and they restore one’s faith in strawberries. The next day we mistakenly walk out much further than expected to the Intermarche in the almost-midday sun and find some lasagne in the traiteur section.  Supermarket lasagne?  Hmm.

Our fears that in the last ten years the campsite would have become over-developed was not realised.  It has cetainly become more sophisticated with more fixed pitch rentals and a bigger swimming pool.  The sections away from those facilities have stayed just as tranquil and green as before though.  The sanitaire block near us has just been done up and is fabulous!

We had visiting ducks here as well.  I finally got mine in a row….

ducks in a row

and gave them some stale baguette (pre-soaked, to spare their little throats).

Malc and bread

Things learnt:

  • get a compass to pinpoint the exact location of the pesky satellite
  • get a fan – this now sounds like a great (early) birthday present! The heat only lasted a couple of days before dropping to a tolerable (for me) 25 degrees- phew. I can see heat is something to be taken seriously in a motorhome.
  • find out how Amazon works in France when you only have a “le Bourg” address and a personal post box round the corner
  • check where the shop actually is before you start walking out to it along hot roads – it’s always the assumptions that catch you out!
  • supermarket traiteur lasagne is not as good as the independents’  but not bad either
  • mattress toppers are great. Tried these out on this trip – Neil slept on his now-redundant duvet and I used the thinner double topper folded over. Both are great!

 

20 to 22 June – en route to old haunts

Forward to the past
Our plan for this first summer in the van was to meander to the fermette and use it as a base for travels around France.   It will be lovely to spend an extended period of time at the fermette so we can grow some vegetables and do other things that need more than two precious weeks to tackle.  It proves surprisingly difficult to make a decision about when to set off again though, and for how long: take the constraints away and you need to identify a new set of parameters for planning.  Maybe just abandon the planning altogether?  Hmmm – not really possible until you are actually underway and choosing where to go the next day.  Besides we have a couple of restraints that call for a bit of research, the main one being the avoidance of really narrow roads until Neil is a bit more confident about dealing with oncoming artics on single track roads.
The fermette flower beds are looking healthy and the weather forecast is finally showing some reliable sun coming in the next few days.

So we decide to set off again with a nostalgic theme – destinations we remember liking from our camping days – top of the list is Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in Correze, Limousin. We spent many camping holidays here in the past – the last time was probably 2004 before we got the fermette. And we will drive only one or two hours a day with two overnight stops on the way.  So we have a plan! I pick out two nice sounding aires that are in towns on red or yellow roads.

First the tedious part – much packing and trying to remember to put back in the van everything we had taken out (bedding, mustard, aires books)  and what we had to pick up – swimming things, tin opener, potato peeler and knife sharpener. (Forgot the last three, noticing only when we stopped for the night.) And adding fresh things. Packing to got has to be the most tedious part of this kind of touring – not only cleaning and filling the van but cleaning and emptying the house. Especially when some of us are rather more obsessive cleaners than others. Mentioning no names.
It all takes longer than it should and we set off in the wrong direction as Stella has opted for the narrowest white road in the area. Fortunately we know these local roads and take avoiding action but add 20 minutes to the driving time. Our first stop is St Pourçain-sur-Sioule where a length of green and peaceful river frontage has been dedicated to motorhome parking – we love you citizens of St Pourçain!  We arrive in time to sneak a river-front pitch and watch latecomers looking wistful as they back into the pitches on the other side of the lane.
St Pourcain
Although there are 58 pitches it has filled almost up by nightfall and more than one friendly  neighbour reveals that they have stayed a few nights – despite the 48 hour limit.  Chairs and tables out too!  One homebound Brit hands over three paperback thrillers she has finished with – great idea – will pass them on once read.
The main street is bustling and only a three minute walk away and a charming traiteur has a lovely tray of lasagne on display.  We decide on a new project: sample this quintessentially French dish in every place we stop.  Mmm – with a big tomato salad and baguette.  Not quite as good as the first one, but excellent nonetheless.  Slept quite well on a slight slope but awoke a few times with rain beating down fearing we would slowly slide down the bank into the torrent.  At two feet deep we would probably have survived.  Rain sounds a lot worse inside a tin box and the ground was fine in the morning.  I would like to say we were awoken by ducks, just to continue a theme, but it was not so.  There were many of them though and they waddled hopefully around the vans at breakfast time seeking and receiving old baguette.
We emptied, filled and left for Felletin. A straightforward drive that, sadly, skirted Aubusson.  Its medieval streets are not recommended for motorhomes and the aire is not close to the town centre:-( We arrived in Felletin just after closed-o’clock. We thought. Felletin
Lunchtime bustle in Felletin High Street
But closed-o’clock lasts longer the further south you get so, back to the van for a tomato sandwich lunch and, because it is now very hot, a doze.
Neil dozes
A strange aire this one: a car park with an upper unmarked terrace with some trees and a lower one fully marked up with the service point and a toilet (that turns out to be very badly in need of a clean).  A couple of mohos are already parked on the upper one so we follow the crowd. It is too hot to cook or eat inside the van and the traiteur, which  eventually opens, disappointed us by having no lasagne (or anything else we fancied).  If we liked kidneys we would be laughing at every place we stop.  But we don’t. We resort to a big tin of sausage in lentils that just needs reheating and, yes, a big tomato salad. We also resort to putting the table outside for coolth and hit a new low – dining in a car park.  But it does not feel like a low – more like a privilege.
Dining room in Felletin
And so to bed……

17 to 19 June – days out

Animations dans la campagne

Rural France puts on some wonderful events during the summer.    Some could even be described as magical, such as last year’s prosaic-sounding international mosaic conference at La Châpelle-St-André.  It was a small conference by any standards and together with live mosaic demonstrations it had  a display of  jewel-like mosaics in the XIII century chapel with this huge stone and crystal-encrusted clam shell as the star of the show.

mosaic shell

If you apply a small lens to the holes in the side you see the grotto of shining amathyst crystal inside in kaleidoscopic vision. If it hadn’t had a price tag of 7,000 I would have cleared a room at home and taken it away. They also created a more straightforward mosaic mural representing the area to attach to the Chapel wall.

Chapel mosaic

This year there was a musical weekend at the nearby Chateau de Corbelin which rivalled it for unexpected charm. The chateau itself is of the heavy, monumental kind rather than the more delicate, ornamental sort and is beautiful in itself. Chateau de Corbellin

Its gardens make it truly remarkable: the formal gardens laid out with roses in full bloom make a fragrant walk and the water gardens add a soupçon of poetry.  Roses CorbelinJust to make it truly inspired there is a pianist playing Beethoven on the terrace: the music slowly becomes discernible as you walk down the drive to the entrance, and then drifts along beside you around the flowerbeds and streams.water garden corbelin

From the sublime to, well, another sort of rural sublime – a vintage car rally in a village near us.  This consists of many lovely old cars processing from one field in the middle of nowhere down a rural road to another.  And then coming back again.  It is not a race – more of a moving (in the kinetic sense) exhibition.  And the cars are cute.  Many of them pimped up or stripped down for racing.  Many of them parked at the roadside with boot or bonnet open to cool the tired old engines over the lunch break.  There is a big marquee for diners who want sandwich de jambon and frites but most people seem to be seasoned rally goers and have come with trailer, awning, barbeque and food.  Bona carsIt starts to drizzle so after the frites we decide to skip the next run of the cars from A to B and leave the field before it becomes a quagmire.  Parked in a similar field for the Fêtes des Anes a few years ago we, along with many other fête-goers, had a very muddy struggle to leave the mealie-field car park after a heavy burst of rain.

We go on to a brocante in Montapas – beside the lake.  PenduleWe love these – half loft clearance, half low grade antiques, half jumble sale – we have picked up enough junk over the years to take a stall of our own.  We have picked up some lovely stuff to furnish the fermette too such as this pendule, which keeps good time and has Westminster chimes which strike every quarter with only one note missing. On the hour it only ever strikes one.  We keep meaning to bring it home and get it fixed by Mr Farbrother in Shipton-by-Beningborough, who has fixed other clocks for us and Castle Howard.  But we seem never to get round to it.

Things learnt:
  • French chateaux events can be magical, inspired places.  If I were in charge I would add a tea room.
  • Take a flask of tea wherever you go (see previous point). Then you can always have half a pint of it whenever you want if that is what you like.  And I do.
  • Westminster chimes have the same four notes per quarter in a different order and sound odd when the third note is missing (dong, dong, blank, dong….dong, blank, dong, dong, etc) but strangely appealing once you get used to it.

Tomorrow we set off in the van again.

 

6 to 16 June – staying put

A la fermette

For the third day in a row we awoke to birdsong – nightingalethis time a nightingale!  Truly wonderful.  We had heard it late at night for the first time when we brought the car over in April.  June is a bit late for them to be singing though and it stopped after a day or two.  They sing during the day as well in case you were wondering.

This time we awoke in a bed in a room.  The fermette is a 200 year old farm worker’s cottage built from stone with amazing wooden beams.  Maybe it was a small holder’s cottage as it has a barn and a stable attached.  The top of the house used to be a hayloft meaning the living accommodation was just the two long narrow rooms below.  These are now one big room and the former hayloft is a landing and bedroom.  Knocking through to the adjacent stable there is a toilet and bathroom and, now, we have a second en suite bedroom on that side as well.   It is a small house which nonetheless has two staircases – a complicated arrangement due to improvements made at different stages by the former owners and then us over the past thirty or so years.  I am sure you can discern all this from the photo!Fermette 201606

Old farm houses tend to be a bit musty when left unoccupied for weeks on end.  The 55cm thick walls keep it cool in the summer, when the temperature can climb up to 40 degrees, but also mean that letting in a bit of heat and damp air causes quite a lot of condensation. Apparently when it has been wet this is especially so!  It felt a bit dampish and the tiled floors became slick with condensation.  Being upstairs and with wooden floors, the bedrooms are OK though.  We need a fire to dry the room out and keep us warm in the evenings.  In the following few days the sun comes scorching out and the daytime temperature soars airing the rooms nicely- but the temperature plummets again in the evening.

Room fermette    Spare room fermette

The main room and the spare bedroom above it – now in use as an office!

So we enjoy the next few hot me in gardendays gardening, riding our bikes a tentative bit on the lanes, and getting sorted out before the weather changes for cold and wet again.  Then we just sit it out – no hurry to get anywhere, plenty to do on the fermette.  We see from the weather forecasts (yes, we have a satellite dish that gives us the BBC and most other british TV and radio) that the UK is having even worse weather than we are. No real consolation in that though.

My cycling improves in short outings in the late afternoons.  I used to be fearless but now all I see is grit and stones whizzing by at five miles an hour (!) waiting to scrape the skin off my arms and legs.  My legs are truly feeble when it comes to the slightest slope  –  they strengthen noticeably over just a few days though! Maybe my technique improves too.

short hair 2016I take the plunge and get the really short haircut I have been contemplating since planning the travels.  This is not for noble reasons, like Ju, (nor as short) but to make life easier on the road.  I don’t like it.  The photo is small and strangely angled for disguise purposes!

The weather is not so bad that we cannot go out at all.  We are British so have flasks and rainwear about our persons at all times.  Our first outing to is do another part of the canal path walk along the side of the Canal du Nivernais.  Over the past few trips we have done several miles by parking the car at a canal bridge and walking up a couple of miles and then back. Next time out, we park by a bridge further along and walk down to where we stopped before.  Now we plan to do something similar but on the bikes and in the van.  We have nearly exhausted the parts of the canal nearby so need to do at least overnight trips to make it worthwhile.  We continue on foot for the time being  though.

By Thursday 16th the weather is warm again if a bit changeable so we drive to the start of the last section we need to cover to join up the other pieces we have done.  This is in Chatillon-en-Bazois a twenty minute drive away where the canal joins the streams  meandering  through the water gardens below the chateau and widens into a canal port.

We see some small fauna enjoying the water

voles

and lovely canalside flora.

canal reeds

Well worth a few minutes contemplation

me by chatillon canal

That’s it before this post gets too long.  We did not leave for another couple of days but I will make another post.  In fact I will still try to do a day-by-day blog when we are on the road but not when we are staying put on the fermette – it would be too boring!