…….to a blind man. so, when the practice nurse told Kate that she didn’t need to have her leg attended to twice a week after next week it was straight home, onto the internet and book a crossing to France.
Kate had minor surgery to her leg in March and ever since has had to have the wound redressed twice a week, which has severely hampered our travel plans. A few days after her opp we collected our brand new sparkling Carthago C-line (AKA Celine) motorhome. Celine has spent weeks sitting on the drive looking glamorous but unloved and under used.
Not totally unused as we have been on several short 2-3 day trips but not the sort of trip she was meant for….several weeks touring Europe.
We had a couple of days in North Norfolk at the very pleasant Woodhill Park site on the cliff top near Cromer, four days in Lincolnshire where we watched some superb flying at RAF Coningsby, acted as support vehicle for a sponsored cycle ride and attended an AGM in Shropshire.
Cycle to the Sky 2
The object of the exercise was to raise £7500 to help fund our Vulcan by cycling from Woodford, near Manchester, over the Peak District to Doncaster via the Derwent dam. Woodford was the HQ of Avro and where the Vulcans, including XH558 were built. Although the factory is now being demolished there is an Avro Heritage Centre being built next to a static Vulcan airframe and that is where the ride started.
Ten riders set off in cold and windy weather to climb and climb up into the Peaks as we jumped ahead and waited for them at the visitor centre by Derwent Water. By the time they reached us they were tired and cold so hot coffee and tea was required to help revive them. We again jumped ahead to the next RV point after they had negotiated the traffic through Sheffield. More tea, coffee and energy food and they set off on the last leg to Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, previously RAF Finningly, and now the home to XH558.
There was a good crowd of friends and relations to greet the riders at Hangar 3 including the children of Lee the organiser of the ride. Lee’s young son Jack, aged 6, joined the riders for the last few hundred yards, pedalling his little bike furiously and proudly leading the riders home.
We had arranged for the riders to cycle straight into the hangar and finish their mammoth 101 mile ride in front of the aircraft with the supporters following them in.
As I write this report the target of £7500 has been exceeded. A superb effort from a mixed bunch of riders, some of whom have rarely ridden since school days.
France at last.
Having had the nod from the nurse that we could get away at last I immediately booked a crossing to France via the channel tunnel. At £43 each way plus an £11 supplement for the motorhome it seems a bargain but there is just a small catch – you have to pay for ten one way crossings in advance, to be used off peak and within 12 months. We don’t think that five trips in a year will be too much of a hardship so the deal is done and the first crossing booked for Friday afternoon.
We arrive at Folkestone early and are allowed on a shuttle a little earlier than the one I booked. Once on the other side we had a short drive to the pleasant Les Erables campsite at Escalles which has pleasant views over the channel.
After a quiet night we headed south to our usual stop at Le Mailleraye-sur-Seine where, for once, the sun was shining. It rained for most of Sunday but on Monday the sun was back and we spent the day, as we usually do, just reading and watching the ever changing river.
Tuesday saw us driving south east round Chartres and down to the River Loire which we crossed at Poitiers.Through the forests and on to Salbris and the excellent Camping de Sologne. After reading a tip that this was a useful stopping off point when heading north or south through France we first stopped there several years ago and have always liked it. The site overlooks a lake with ducks, a lonesome goose and loads of musical frogs who you hear but never seem to see. Christine, the owner, is charming and speaks good English, and there is a bar/restaurant open in season.
It was hot and sunny and our pitch had a handy tree to sit beneath as the shade was badly needed. The temperature was still up in the 80s well into the evening as the BBQ was lit and cool beers opened.
The next three days followed a recurring pattern, a brisk walk around the lake to the boulangerie to get breakfast, later a leisurely walk over the bridge to Super U for supplies, after lunch a snooze in the shade and a BBQ supper in the cool of the evening.
By Saturday things had stated to cool down and so we headed further south east to Sancoins, a pleasant and sleepy town south east of Bourges. We found the aire at Sancoins the previous year and liked it very much. It is located on the old quay of a disused canal and on the edge of the town.
Apart from the birdsong, chattering rooks in the tall trees and occasional frogs it is very peaceful. it also happens to be free, which is always a welcome advantage. When we arrived in early afternoon it was quite busy but there was a free spot beside the water at exactly the same place we had stopped last year. Soon after we arrived there was a stream of camping-cars coming in and every space must have been filled that night.
On Sunday, after a walk along the cool banks of the tree lined canal, we sat and read and watched a busy bank vole as he popped up out of his hole on the canal bank just a few feet away from us and foraged among the grass. Steak and fish on the BBQ, cold beer for me and a very dry martini for Kate and we rounded off a lovely day.
Monday meant that, reluctantly, it was time to head back north. A 250 mile drive back to La Mailleraye was completed without drama and with mostly light traffic.
On Tuesday we carried on north and after a stop for shopping near Boulogne we ended up at a new, to us, aire at Gravelines, a few miles north of Calais. It’s an attractive spot, on the edge of an old fortified town and overlooks a small marina.
After a walk around Gravelines on Wednesday morning it was off to Eurotunnel via Auchan for a fill of cheap diesel and back to the UK after another super, if rather short, trip.
We did 1120 miles and the new motorhome did a creditable 25.4mpg. All the way south we were driving into a head or side wind and when we returned to the north the wind had changed direction by 180º meaning that almost all our driving was into a strong headwind. On a vehicle with almost a slab front that makes an awful lot of difference.
Celine’s behaviour on the road was impeccable as befits a lady of her style and breeding and by the time we got home she had covered 2865 miles from new.