Sunday 30 September 2023
Nido's parked up back at Ardres, which was our first night stop of this trip back on 20 August. We've eaten, our passports and documents are at the ready and the alarm's set for 0430 tomorrow morning, ready for our Shuttle train back to Folkestone and the long drive home to Anglesey.
We left our pitch by the river Seine, popping up to use the service point in nearby Yvetot, as the one at Mailleraye-sur-Seine was out of order. Then it was on to the free aire in Clères, north of Rouen. It's mainly double pitches, separated by high beech hedges, but there was plenty of room, so we had one all to ourselves. A quick check of my mapping app showed some GR trails nearby, so we enjoyed a walk through a forest, alongside arable fields on the high ground and back along quiet country lanes, nosying at the houses and choosing which one we'd live in!
Thursday morning Cathy had her online Welsh lesson, so Salty and I had a walk around the adjacent park before going into the town centre. He wasn't very impressed when I had to tie him outside the boulangerie so I could go in and buy a baguette and some patisserie! Our next stop was the vets in Buchy to get Salty checked out and for him to take his worming tablet and have this recorded in his EU (Irish) passport. For anyone needing a veterinary practice on the way back to the UK, I can recommend them. You can book an appointment online well in advance, they speak English (although I continued with my very bad French!) and they allow you to give your pet your own tablets (sourced from your UK vet) to keep the price down.
|Not happy being tied up outside the boulangerie!
We continued on to the free aire in Songeons. This is a fairly new and well kept aire, with generous, level, gravel pitches. Once parked up we took the 25 minute walk, along the edge of a forest up to the ancient village of Gerberoy, with its cobbled lanes, old cob houses with colourful timberwork dating to the 17th century and ramparts surrounding the village. Out of season it was quiet and only a few people were walking around. Listed in the 'plus beaux villages de France' it has an old world charm, which although quaint and beautiful, felt a little like the 'set in aspic' equivalent of the Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter or Bourton-on-the-water; it must get very busy in the summer season. Back at the van I popped into the village to buy a jeton for the service point before cooking some daal, then a quiet night, listening to the stream flowing past the aire.
|One of the gated entrances to Gerberoy village
Friday morning after breakfast, showers and servicing the van, we drove the 65km to our penultimate stopover at Le Crotoy, on the coast. It's really just a gravel and sand parking area behind some low sand dunes, leading to a shallow flat bay with a narrow beach, with mud flats when the tide recedes for miles. We had a walk along as the tide went out, watching the kite surfers and letting Salty have some zoomie time, albeit on a long lead. The rest of the day was spent sheltering from the sea breeze behind the van, then sat inside for supper and an early night.
This morning it was bright and sunny and still warm. I've been in shorts ever since we left home on 19 August, only wearing long trousers for the one night we went out for moules frites. I have jeans ready for the morning though, as it's about 10'C cooler back in the UK. Our task for today - on the way to Ardres - was to shop for some foodie items to take home, plus a few gifts for our friend and neighbour who have kindly kept an eye on our house and garden. I also did the last diesel fill up of this trip, so we're now ready for the long journey home. On arrival in Ardres we had walk along some of the lakes close to the park up and back along the canal. Cathy and Salty returned to the van and I carried on in to the village to buy a baguette to make a sandwich for tomorrow, plus some patisserie (of course!). On the way back I stopped off at the village Brasserie to use up my last few Euros and put some more money back into the local community - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! After sitting in the warm afternoon sunshine, supper was a quiche lorraine from the boulangerie and some salad. That's us now ready for an early off in the morning.
|Just doing my bit for the local economy
|This will teach me to bid unseen on eBay...just working out how to strap it to the top of the van!
It's been another great trip. When I look back at these posts, I've already forgotten many of the places we'd visited. It's the main reason I write this blog; my brain is like a sieve these days! We've had some great weather with very little rain and explored some lovely places. Many baguettes have been consumed and plenty of patisserie too! So it's back home tomorrow after six weeks away. We're both ready to return to pick up our lives and get back into the home routine. Cathy has a lot of gardening to catch up with and I have lots in the pipeline with Môn Search and Rescue, including studying for a First Responder Emergency Care medics course in November. We'll have the usual job of emptying the van, cleaning it inside and out and preparing it for semi-hibernation We don't tend to travel much in the winter, maybe the odd day out, although if there's a decent weather window, there's nothing stopping us throwing a few things in the van and finding somewhere close to home to spend a night away, combining it with a refreshing winter walk. Next year's trips are to be confirmed. It won't be France though; we're taking a break from touring here. It's our 40th wedding anniversary in November and a present to each other is to do a DNA test to trace our ancestry, then use the results and further research to plan future trips. So who knows where we'll end up next year. But it should hopefully make for some exciting and interesting travels, with a purpose and aim of returning to some of our family roots.
Until then, stay safe.