Tuesday 13 September 2022

Swimming, Cycling, Chilling

Tuesday 13 September 2022

For two days Nido's been parked up on a campsite, shaded by trees and next to the Dordogne river.  We came here for a couple of reasons; I needed to be on electric for a Môn SAR Committee Meeting last night and the weather forecast was for some more extreme heat, so we needed to be some place where we could cool down.  We therefore came to Camping La Plage, as it was right next to the river (for Salty to cool down in) and it had a swimming pool (for us to cool down in!).  The campsite is part of the ACSI Discount Card scheme.  This is an annual subscription (I think it's about €20 per year) which provides us with a membership card and two books of campsites throughout Europe.  The campsites who are part of the ACSI scheme offer discounted fees out of high season, with access to all the campsite facilities including full-fat electricity.  In this case, the site is €16 per night (about £13.80) which is a bargain.  We'll make our subscription cost back if we stay on just two or three ACSI sites. The campsite's about ten minutes walk from the 'beautiful village' of La Roque-Gageac, a cluster of golden stone buildings built along the river and in some cases right into the towering cliffs and caves behind.  We've been to this place a couple of times before - once in 2013 and also in 2018, but this is the first time on this campsite.

We slept well amongst the vines at Monbazillac and made our way here via a Lidl shop in Bergerac.  Yesterday was a really hot day - up to about 34'C - and we spent most of it trying to keep ourselves and the van cool. The Dordogne is very low at the moment due to the drought in this region so didn't look too inviting for us to swim in, but Salty enjoyed a paddle and dunk.  We left him in the van with all the skylights open, chilling on his cool mat and went for a cooling swim in the pool, with a magnificent backdrop of limestone cliffs behind us.  It was a warm night and our bedroom area didn't drop much below 24'C overnight.

This morning I was up early and took Salty for a walk amongst the walnut trees just outside the campsite.  The whole Dordogne Valley, leading into Perigord, is well known for the many walnut trees and they can be found everywhere in abundance; many of the 'local produce' shops sell cold-pressed walnut oil - it isn't cheap!  The day started cloudy but still very warm and with high humidity. I breakfasted outside and left Cathy and Salty at the van to go for a bike ride.  Cycling the valley roads here are a delight, with so much to look at along the way - villages, beautiful houses and outbuildings, the river and valley, walnut trees, chateaux high on the clifftop.  I made my way along and turned right after a couple of miles to steadily climb about up a winding road, ending up a small hamlet with extensive views across the valley on one side and forest and fields on the other.  The free-wheel back down was great fun and a lot faster than going up! The only time this trip that I've nearly been wiped out was today when a car pulled out on me during the fast descent, needing some urgent braking from me, even though the road was clear and straight for about 600m; it was a British car!

Back at the van I had a bite to eat and a quick shower, before we all walked along the river towards La Roque-Gageac, following a well marked route which took us around and above the village, through beautiful ancient deciduous forest, with a number of small fields enclosed by dry-stone walls and abandoned old buildings.  They may have been forester or shepherd huts back in the day.  The path descended on the other side and we ended up in the narrow lanes above the village, with the cliffs towering above us.  Many of the properties are Gites and I would imagine they cost a fortune to rent during the holiday season.  We traced our route back to the van, via the river for another cooling dip for Salty, before we went to cool off ourselves in the swimming pool.  Dinner tonight was pork kebabs with a greek salad. Cathy made a delicious pudding of bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of wine, wrapped in foil and cooked on the Cadac. It's just starting cool off now as we sit outside listening to the owls.

Our intention was to spend a bit of time in this region, but the forecast is for continuing hot weather.  This sounds ideal if on holiday in a cottage, but not so great in a tin box on wheels; the van is insulated for the cold but this also means once it gets hot inside it traps the heat.  Plus dogs (and oldies like us) are less resistant to the heat.  So we're going to start making our way slowly north, heading for the western end of the Loire Valley.  Then we'll follow the Loire eastwards before turning north to head back towards the Normandy coast and a date with the vet on Friday 30 September for Salty to have his worming tablet and a rabies vaccine booster jab.  That's the rough plan, but we've made these types of plans before and changed them a few days later.....because we can!

Shady pitch

A lifesaver in this heat

Out on my bike

This is what the bottle holder's REALLY for!

The Dordogne is extremely low

La Roque-Gageac

A lovely forest walk

Loo with a view

Perfect spot for apéro time

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