I left Dronfield, and my Dad in good spirits and headed off in Percy on a great adventure. Headed south to pick up some bits from my brothers house and stock up from the amazing asian supermarket whilst I had the opportunity. Called in on other family, friends from college, old work colleagues and family friends whilst heading south, spending a good week catching up with folk around my home town of Salisbury. Then on to London, more friends and framily and to pick up two lovely passengers for the first stage of my journey abroad. The sense of freedom with transport was wonderful, not only easy movement from one place to the next, but with all my home comforts on board as well, a truly liberating venture.
I want to write loads, of all the lovely people I reconnected with, the stories we shared and memories that have been reawakened, but I’ll save those for that novel someday and keep speeding along with the story. Needless to say, it has been wonderful to spend time with so many people, I send love to you all. Those that I missed, I send love to you too and will endeavour to catch you next time.
With Tania, a great friend of over 20 years and her 4 year old daughter Alix, we are heading down France, with no specific plan apart than, to meet Jacqueline, Tania’s partner, in Carcassonne in a couple of weeks time. We’ll go with the flow and see where the days take us.
Sat nav at the ready, not that I’ve ever used one before, it was a bit of a treat as I know how difficult it is to find places and I fear for my safety trying to map read and drive at the same time. (Garmin, latterly known as Charmin Garmin as he never gets annoyed, is a bit particular, though exceedingly good at finding destinations. The more we use him the better it gets)
London to Dover
Dover - Calais thankfully the sea was calm as I can feel queasy just thinking about being on board a boat. We watched England’s white cliffs shrink away behind us and the coast of France loom.
It was great to have a good walk on deck and blow away the cobwebs.
Calais towards Bologne sur Mer, though after an hour or so, decided that it was too far along the coast road after our early evening crossing and stopped short, camping in a farm field for the first night.
Alix’s bed stretched across the forward seats, a fat chunk of foam wrapped in a duvet cover. The curtains wrapping round the dash to keep the night time well and truly outside, Tania and me on the huge expanse of fold out cushioning in the back. A great start.
|Percy in the shadow of the white cliffs of Dover|
|England in the distance, leaving the clouds behind us|
|Tania and Alix clearing the cobwebs, Calais behind|
We got to Boulogne sur Mer and stopped on the clifftops for lunch, looking out over the Channel under the flight path of some very low flying parasenders who were flying on the updraught of the cliffs. A friendly fellow vanner suggested heading down the coast to St Valery Sur Somme which is where we ended for the night. Camping de la Croix l’Abbe. Our first campsite that was a blend of static caravans, cabins, caravans, tents and motor homes. It all felt a bit new and weird to be setting up and sorting out amongst everyone else, not being a seasoned camper, but as I write two weeks later, am way over that now. There were other van things that we were still getting used to too, like preparing meals, toilet facilities, getting ready for the night and packing it all away again. It just needed a bit of routine and encouraging everyone to help.
The countryside was rolling hills with great coastal views, tiny villages and interesting things to spot. Alix seemed to have a nap soon after we headed each time and that was to come in very handy later on.
|paragliding on the cliffs of Boulogne sur Mer|
Tania and I looked at the map early on and were shocked to see what little progress we had made, vowed to head off early and make progress. After breakfast in a cafe down by the harbour we finally hit the road at just gone midday. Alix fell asleep and I stepped on the gas. We tried the autoroute for a while which was great, though it ate euros at a surprising rate so we slipped off and joined the old route nationals. The countryside was flat, the roads straight as straight and suddenly the miles slipped away.
With sleeping child in the back we left Abbeyville, got diverted through the centre of Rouen, my first big city driving on the other side of the road in Percy, hairy at times but fine, we caught a glimpse of the cathedral, river and several interesting buildings but decided to keep going. Sleeping child. Evreux came and went the same way and Dreux loomed as Alex woke. We promised playgrounds and ice creams, not knowing what we’d find, parked up and had an energetic hour or so in the shadows of the cathedral making great use of the local childrens facilities and eating the best ice creams ever.
|Cathedral of Evreux|
|ice cream heaven|
|Tania in ice cream heaven|
Charmin Garmin did well and found us a campsite for the night, one with full facilities which were very welcome. We ordered fresh croissants to be delivered for breakfast and had a very peaceful night in the countryside again.