Showing posts with label Pas de Calais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pas de Calais. Show all posts

Saturday 16 July 2016

First sea swim on our last day

Saturday 16 July 2016

Nido's parked up at a private aire in Tardinghen, about 1.5km outside Wissant. We tried the latter but it's a busy Saturday, a French public holiday and the weather's good - a grand slam! But I think we lucked out, as this aire is great.  Basically it's a strip of grass around a farmer's field - of what looks like was wheat or barley - that's been recently harvested.  No facilities and €6 per night, but it's very quiet and there's loads of room to spread out, plus we sat in the sunshine this evening until 2145.  The farmer's just been to collect the fee, with a smile and a business card - and his dog, who earned one of our doggie treats, as did the two dogs in the Dutch van next door. Our last evening is usually spent in a hot, cramped aire but tonight has felt like a bonus extra night on holiday.

Before I go any further, Cathy has insisted I tell the tale of the shorts.  I hate shopping for clothes and see no point in wasting money to have them all festering in drawers and wardrobes.  So I employ the 'Lean' process of 'just enough, just in time'.  In other words, I wear my clothes until they wear out and then I replace them - makes sense (at least to me) and saves money.  This holiday, I've 'worn out' two pairs of shorts, both of which I've had for about 20 years (so I'm a little upset they haven't lasted very long!). The first pair blew on our walk around the mills in the Black Forest, as I bent over to step out of the waterfall stream. The second pair gradually split in a couple of places in the 'rear' and were confined to the bin today.  I have to confess to have noticed this a while ago, but as the split was hidden, I figured they'd do for a few more months - but the rip was spotted! Both pairs were very comfortable (as clothes should be) and will be sadly missed - RIP shorts 😔

We slept in late this morning, until about 0830. It was dull and cloudy but still warm. Breakfast done, I decided not to join the long queue of vans waiting for the service point - we had enough water and although the loo could do with an empty, we were bound to pass another Aire on the way to our next stop. I plugged in the co-ords for an Intermarche supermarket and off we went.  On arrival, although the supermarket was large, the parking area wasn't - something we've seen more of this time in France. So I just stopped to fill up with diesel and we plugged another into the satnag. At this one we managed to park OK, but the journey was painful, with traffic jams at roundabouts - I suppose it is a holiday weekend but it's something we've not experienced in France too often.  We had a shopping list of food items to take home, so purchases done and stowed away, we headed for the Aire at Wissant, where we normally stay on our last night as it's only 20 minutes drive to the tunnel. But, as I wrote above, it was toppers, although frustratingly a small French hatchback car was parked in one of the pitches.  So,we drove up to another aire at Escalles, to sit outside and eat lunch and look at other options.  That one is day time parking only, which finally led us to this Aire, which is a great find. 

We parked up on the grass and had a brew in the sunshine, before packing our rucksack and walking the 1km to the beach, a quiet spot between Wissant and Cape Nez Blanc, the French equivalent of Dorset's Golden Cap. The tide was a good way out, so we walked towards the sea, dumped our gear on the damp sand and enjoyed a swim in warm seawater - our first sea swim - on the last day of our holiday.  After the regulatory 15 minutes in the water (time to soak up the minerals), we walked back to the hot, dry sand.  Cathy had a snooze while I mooched around the beach, drying off and topping up my tan, while successfully searching for some sea glass for Cathy's collection.  Back at the van, another brew sat in the sunshine, before showers and a dinner of BBQ'd chicken and German sausage, with fried onions and a tin of tagine chick peas.  Washing up done, we sat in the stubble field with a tea and coffee to enjoy the last of the sunshine on the last day of our holiday.  Everything's packed away, passports have  been retrieved from the safe and alarm set for 0500 tomorrow morning, ready to catch the 0820 tunnel.  

We've made a key decision over the last couple of days - we're not returning to Europe until we retire, and then it'll be our first long over-winter trip into Spain and Portugal. All very exciting!  When that is depends on when we achieve our financial independence target...... So time for bed now - early start in the morning.

Drying our swimming gear on this quiet, remote aire

Soaking up the last of the sun

Saturday 11 July 2015

Last Day

Saturday 11 July 2015

We're on the free aire at Wissant, just 20 minutes drive from Calais.  We stayed here before as it's handy for the tunnel.  It's been a sunny although very windy day - in fact it's been windy all year.

I was up first this morning and bought a baguette and two croissants from the bread van which arrived at the air at about 0915.  We enjoyed our last breakfast outside this trip, then secured the van and moved over to the service point to empty the loo and grey water and top up with fresh.  That all done we hit the road, heading for Wissant.  I'd also plugged in the coordinates for Leroy Merlin, a large DIY store, as I wanted some special hose fittings for a new type of water fitting on some aires.  We stopped  off on the way for some lunch and a brew and arrived at Wissant at about 1520.  There weren't any spaces in the official pitches, mainly due to other vans selfishly taking up space for awnings and chairs or parking diagonally.  This isn't the idea of an aire; they're mainly parking stopovers, definitely not replacement campsites!  But because Nido's small we managed to park up at the side by the fence.  

We locked up and walked through the village down to the beach.  The tide was out but not too far so we walked across the sand for a paddle to cool off our travel weary feet.  On the way back up we stopped for a beer then back at the van had another sat in the sunshine (although the continuous strong wind was a pain).  Both showered and changed, we walked back to the village square.  Chez Nicole, which does great Moules, was fully booked, so we tried anothe place, but they had run out of Moules!  We ended up at a small cafĂ© that did have Moules frĂźtes and they were very tasty.  We took a longer walk round back the van and I dug out our passports and papers ready for the trip home, then we had a hot drink before an early night.  The 0600 alarm tomorrow's going to be a shock to the system!

So ends our last full day in France this trip.  We've had a relaxing time with some great weather.  Our time on Oleron was our favourite, but of course for me it was topped by seeing Stage 7 of the Tour de France on my holiday.  We could happily keep going for several weeks, although we'd need to find a laundry fast, plus top up the CaxtonFX card with more Euros.  This has been a relatively cheap fortnight's holiday, although when we take far longer trips our budget will be far smaller.  But then we won't be on holiday - we'll be living our life!   So it'll be cheap meals, far less alcohol and finding the cheapest (free!) stopovers.  

For those interested in budgets and stats:

We spent 15 nights away, broken down as follows:
  • 10 nights on aires, two nights of which were on EHU and all but 3 nights were free
  • 4 nights on a campsite with EHU
  • 1 night wild camping
As for spends:
  • £8 - Channel Tunnel (mostly covered by Tesco vouchers)
  • £210 - Diesel 
  • £61 - Campsites
  • £27 - Aires (majority were free)
  • £22 - Clothes
  • £263 - groceries and alcohol
  • £148 - eating out
So a total of £739 for two weeks' holiday, enjoying good food and wine and not scrimping. When long-terming our monthly budget will be about £1000, so we'll definitely need to make savings, but that's easily done.

In all, door to door, we travelled 1,909 miles at 32.4 miles mpg.

Winging it on an unofficial pitch on Wissant aire

Snoozing on Le Shuttle - blighty bound