Friday 15 July 2016

I see the sea!

Friday 15 July 2016

Nido's parked up in a large aire in St Valery sur Somme, on the northern French coast. It's advertised as room for 100 vans and I'd say at least that many are here.  But it's quiet and only about 15 minutes walk from the town.

We slept well after a cooler night and woke just after 0800 to clear blue sky and sunshine. The boulangerie was only a few minutes walk away and I bought a 'traditional' baguette for lunch and four croissants for breakfast.  In the meantime Cathy opened up the van, kettle on, table and chairs out.  The croissants were probably the best we've had - in fact the first this holiday - crispy and with a lovely buttery crust on the bottom - enjoyed with salty Brittany butter and jam.  Add to this a big pot of tea, sat in the sunshine looking at the castle and it doesn't get much better.  Cleared up and secured, I moved over to the service point.  Cathy sorted out the grey water while I emptied the loo.  Now time to fill up with fresh water.  I connected my small hose and tapped in my PIN for water - without notice the water gushed out at a rate equivalent to a pusser's fire-fighting hose! I was quickly soaked as the hose snaked around and I eventually managed to grab it and direct it towards our filling point! The pressure was so high I had to turn it away and direct it under the van now and again, to allow the filling point to catch cup.  In between I topped up our 10L container and the loo cassette ready for a rinse.  I also topped up my shorts and sandals! Once our fresh water tank was full, there was no way to switch off the water, so until our allocated 10 minutes were up, Cathy happily wartered some of the nearby plants! Once the flow stopped and our little hose drooped and dropped to the ground, I looked like I'd been caught out in the monsoon!  

We hit the road, heading north-west.  Our route took us through the centre of Amiens as the satnag was off motorway and, out the other side, we found a place to pull over for lunch. Fed and watered, we continued on to park on the verge by the sand dunes at Cayeux-sur-Mer.  It was sunny with a brisk but warm sea breeze - the tide was out and this is a large estuary, so it was proper out.  We crossed the dunes and walked the tidal range out towards the sea.  The early stretches were deep, sticky, black mud - as Cathy found out! - but we were soon on fine, dry, white sand, feeling the heat bounce back off the surface.  We walked for about an hour and managed a quick paddle in the sea, before returning through the pebbles and sea kale.  On the way we came across a huge expanse of marsh samphire, which the locals were collecting with sharp knives.  I tried some - it was delicious raw - crisp, green and salty.

Back at the van we sat outside with a brew, exchanging a quick chat with an English couple parked up in the same area.  It was a short drive to the aire at St Valery and we were soon sat out in the sun with a beer. A quick change and we walked downhill into the town.  There are lots of quaint, narrow streets lined with what would have been fishermen's cottages - a bit like a French Polperro. We picked a restaurant and sat on the covered terrace with a pastis apero, people watching.  This is clearly the place to be on a Friday night, noting the Aston Martins and BMWs cruising by.  We enjoyed our moules, then Cathy had lemon meringue pie, cheese for me.  We took a walk along the promenade to digest our dinner as the bohemian market stalls were just packing up for the day. We walked back up the narrow streets with some unique cottages, and are now back in the van and ready for sleep. Tomorrow is our final full day with hopefully some more sea and sunshine (and I don't mind some more moules either!). 

Breakfast - best croissants ever

Muddy toes - soft feet. People would pay a fortune at a spa for this!

A German gun emplacement 

Snail hotel

Aire at St Valery

Great moules

Post-dinner walk

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