Showing posts with label calais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label calais. Show all posts

Sunday 14 July 2019

Cité Europe - homeward bound

Saturday 13 July 2019
Nido’s parked up with many other motorhomes on a busy Cité Europe car park.  We’ve only spoken to three other Brits in our 4.5 weeks away, including one last night and, come to think of it, we’ve hardly seen any British vans at all apart from the last couple of days.  We’ve done our shopping at Carrefour, eaten our supper and will have a final brew before prepping the van for the off at 0430 tomorrow morning.

We’ve enjoyed our few weeks away, seeing and doing some great things. If we had to pick one highlight each, for me it would driving up and wild camping on the summits of some of the iconic Tour de France mountains and Cols, with snow still on the tops and lovely, clean, fresh air.  For Cathy (and me too), I know she loved kayaking in the Verdon Gorge - perhaps this is something we’ll do more of in the future.  The heatwave in Provence and around the Camargue wasn’t fun and we had no choice but to cut our time short there and head north to cooler air.  But it’s the coast we’ve enjoyed too, particularly the Pink Granite Coast of north Brittany - truly spectacular.  When we return to France, we think we’ll spend a lot of time just in Normandy and Brittany and only venture a little further south if the weather’s not great.

We’re really looking forward to getting home and have lots to do, especially as we’ll be spending September in the USA, visiting our daughter and son-in-law; we’re really looking forward to that, in particular the week we’ve booked in a beautiful water-side house in Charleston.  After that, we’ll be UK bound for quite a while I think.  We’re planning lots of small trips to different parts of the country, focusing on country walking.  Maybe our next trip to continental Europe (depending on how the Brexit madness pans out), may see us turning left at Calais and heading for the Netherlands and Denmark.

Until then, thanks for reading my ramblings and happy travelling one and all! 

Friday 14 June 2013

Final day - "Final Fling"

Friday 14 June 2013

We're parked in an Aire in Calais, next to the ferry port. We need to be here to be up early tomorrow morning to drop fluids and catch the 0720 tunnel to Folkestone arriving at 0655 BST.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of last night's Aire and had a lazy morning (for us).  The cold water yodel alarm (Cathy shrieking in the shower!) alerted me to a problem - no hot water.  I checked and changed the fuse but that didn't make any difference.  I also checked we still had gas.  We were also quite low on water so I thought perhaps this was a safety feature to prevent the heating element burning out.  But after topping up with water we still had no hot.  Oh well, at least Cathy had her (cold) shower and hair wash.  It's a submariner's dhoby for me until we get home. We had an omelette for breakfast with some of our emergency baguette stored in the freezer, plus a brew.  After a bit of a tidy up we sat outside in the sunshine, mainly to let Cathy's hair dry so she could take advantage of the electricity to burn her hair straight.  Electric disconnected and everything secured, we moved over to the service point to drop waste and top up with fresh water.  There was no thread on the tap so we had our first try at topping up with the collapsible water container and funnel.  It worked fine albeit it a little slow - Cathy managed it well on her own though - I would have soaked my t-shirt and shorts in the process.

We punched in the coordinates for an Aire by the sea and headed off through the countryside.  "That Woman" seemed to be behaving herself today, although some of the roads were a little on the narrow side - I was particularly unnerved when a large HGV overtook me at speed on a narrow, winding country road - as if my driving confidence isn't shot through already :-(

We arrived at Le Crotoy at about 1230 - lunchtime.  The Aire was already busy.  It says it can take up to 50 vans, but I think there were far more than that there, although it doesn't seem too crowded.  We're parked on a sandy but hard surface with a view over the estuary from the port windows.  We took a walk along the harbour wall and stopped off at a restaurant for a lovely seafood lunch, watching the market stall holders pack up from their morning's trading.  We walked back to the van to sit and chill in the sun before heading off for our final couple of hours driving in France, heading for Calais.

We've just had a text from Chris saying he's passed the final test of his Army basic training - a full week out on exercise putting into practice all he's learned in the past 13 weeks - known as Exercise "Final Fling". This is marvellous news and of course we're hugely proud of him. But, more importantly, we're pleased for him.  He's had to overcome some major obstacles to get to this point, some would say from the very bottom of the gutter. That he's achieved this is testament to the grit, determination, courage and bloody self-mindedness that we always knew he had, but he hadn't yet tapped into.  Only one in 30 potential recruits make it to this point, so it's a massive achievement. We'll be very proud to attend his passing out parade at Pirbright next Friday, before he moves on to the next phase of training with his chosen regiment - the 9th/12th Lancers.  I think this Dad, perhaps like others, will have some grit in his eye next week, making them a bit runny!

Leaving Le Crotoy we drove the 2 hours to the Aire in Calais, including our one and only section of toll motorway - for about 5 miles at the princely sum of €1.60 - what's the point? This Aire is a little like those wild places you see in The Waterworld film, or perhaps The Land That Time Forgot! All nationalities, but mostly Brits, and mostly looking like they've been sat outside the front of their van drinking all day.  Or perhaps they've been parked here for a fortnight, slowly turning brown on the outside and pickled on the inside!  This Aire is a definite cul-de-sac, yet at least 10 French cars a minute drive down, gawp at everyone, turn around and drive off. We sat out for a while outside then went for a walk along the sandy beach.  We had a meal inside the van and are now clearing up, ready for our trip back to the Grim North in the morning. See you on the other side......

Aire by the beach in Le Crotoy

A busy Aire right next to the Calais ferry terminal

Last evening of sun

Saturday 1 June 2013

Crevettes in Calais

Day 1 - Saturday 1 June 2013

Having left the house in the safe hands of Nicola & Chris, we picked up the van at 0800, thanks to a bright and breezy Ian - he clearly enjoys early morning starts!  We unpacked and put all our stuff away then hit the road.  It was a pretty boring, gruelling drive. The M25 was as usual - packed - so we stopped on the M20 services for a quick bite to eat and a cuppa.  Refreshed, we carried on for the remaining 27 miles to the tunnel. It was just as well we left so early as we only had about 40 minutes to spare on arrival at the terminal. This was our first trip on the tunnel.  Cathy enjoyed it (especially as she could have a lie down and a stretch) but I definitely prefer the ferry - being under the sea rather than on it isn't natural for me!

As we we arrived in France quite late we decided to overnight at the Motorhome Parking at the Cite de Europe. Not the best of views, but the Carrefour's open until 2200, which means we can stock up on a few essentials to get us through our first 24 hours, particularly with tomorrow being Sunday. We popped into the hypermarket and bought a few goodies.  Dinner tonight was Crevettes with a homemade garlic mayo, tomato, onion & pepper salad, plus some baguette and lovely sea salt butter.  A glass or to of Beajoulais helped wash it down, finished off with some fresh fruit.  I noticed the fridge gas light was flashing so sent a quick text email to Ian - he replied quick as a flash to tell me to switch it off and back on again. That sorted it and I remembered him telling me to do this on Wednesday!

So we're stocked up on provisions.  There are quite a few motorhomes parked here, most of them British, so this a popular stopover. It's now 2100 and we're both shattered, it's been a long day.  So I think we'll be asleep soon, then up early for a quick breakfast and then head south towards Epernay and our first full day in France.